Lords of the Drinks

The “All Beer Diet” German monks created for the 46 days of Lent Fast before Easter


Lent doesn’t have to be time without booze. German monks came up with a diet that was quite the opposite.

Many Christians around the world started a period of fasting yesterday at Ash Wednesday. For the remaining 46 days (or 40 when skipping Sundays) until Easter people give up meat, smoking or alcohol.  Although this can be seen as the ultimate sacrifice, and that’s what the Lent Fast is essentially about, we’d like to present you an interesting alternative. In the 17th century German monks created the all  beer diet. For 46 days they swore off solid food and stuck  to their rich homemade doppelbockbier and water.

These Catholic Monks settled in Southern Germany, near Munich, in 1627, where they raised their monastery Neudeck ob der Au. Originally they came from the South of Italy, as they were part of the Order of Francis of Paola, also known as Paulaner monks or the Order of Minims. These guys took their devotion to God quite serious and denied themselves all kinds of pleasures like meat and dairy products, typical things that other believers would give up for Lent fasting.

So the Paulaner monks came up with a revolutionary idea. In 1634 they created a beer that was so malty and rich that it would keep them alive and kicking for the whole 46 days, without a bite of solid food. The idea behind this “liquid bread”, as the monks liked to call it, was that liquids cleanse both body and soul. It was even a common believe that the more one would drink of this beer, the more purified he would be for Easter.

But since doppelbock was also quite heavier than regular beers, especially in Medieval Times, people would actually get drunk from it. And when the recipe improved with time, the monks got quite concerned that this beer could be too rich and tasty for Lent. Somewhere around the year 1700 they sent a barrel of their own brew to the Pope in Rome and asked for his opinion. But on the long way through the Alps and the hot Italian sun, the beer got pretty disgusting and the Pope was horrified when he tried it. He sent word back that this nasty brew was perfect to cleanse the monks from all sins, and they should drink as much as possible. A tradition was saved.

Modern day Paulaner Salvator still has more or less the same old recipe.

Even though the Neudeck ob der Au Monastery wasn’t licensed to sell any of their homebrew until 1780, it seems that the monks weren’t afraid to make a little money on the side, since there are many documented complaints about drunkards hanging round the monastery. By now the legendary doppelbock beer still exists under the name Paulaner Salvator. Although the beer is no longer produced by monks, it’s still made after more or less the same recipe.

And there’s also good news for those who like to lose a little weight, but love beer drinking too much. Homebrewer and author J. Wilson and lost 25.5 pounds, so it seems a more effective way to lose kilos than the All Wine Diet of William the Conqueror. For those of you brave enough to give it a go, we can’t wait to hear about your experiences. Cheers,

Micky Bumbar


Related posts on Lords of the Drinks:

11 Health benefits of alcohol consumption

Xenophon’s beer experience in Armenia

Lithuanian farmhouse ale, a national craft beer tradition

The Legend of Gambrinus, King of Beer

The Myth of the Salvation of Rothenburg ob der Tauer