Saturday, March 10, 2018

Monks and Beer

In medieval times, beer was the usual drink of the peasants, and was a staple during Lent, which was much more rigorous in  past centuries. In the Eastern rite it remains so. There are still Catholic religious who embrace the "black fast" during Lent, in which there is abstinence from eggs and dairy products as well as from meat. In Mediterranean countries, wine and olive oil were also staples during Lent. From Catholic News Agency:
But did you know that Catholic monks once brewed beer specifically for a liquid-only Lenten fast? Back in the 1600s, Paulaner monks moved from Southern Italy to the Cloister Neudeck ob der Au in Bavaria. “Being a strict order, they were not allowed to consume solid food during Lent,” the current braumeister and beer sommelier of Paulaner Brewery Martin Zuber explained in a video on the company’s website.

They needed something other than water to sustain them, so the monks turned to a common staple of the time of their region – beer. They concocted an “unusually strong” brew, full of carbohydrates and nutrients, because “liquid bread wouldn’t break the fast,” Zuber noted. This was an early doppelbock-style beer, which the monks eventually sold in the community and which was an original product of Paulaner brewery, founded in 1634. They gave it the name “Salvator,” named after “Sankt Vater,” which “roughly translates as ‘Holy Father beer,’” Zuber said.

Paulaner currently serves 70 countries and is one of the chief breweries featured at Munich’s Octoberfest. Although its doppelbock is enjoyed around the world today, it had a distinctly penitential origin with the monk. Could a beer-only fast really be accomplished? One journalist had read of the monks’ story and, in 2011, attempted to re-create their fast. J. Wilson, a Christian working as an editor for a county newspaper in Iowa, partnered with a local brewery and brewed a special doppelbock that he consumed over 46 days during Lent, eating no solid food. (Read more.)

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