The connection between beer and Lent

Published 1:24 pm Wednesday, March 6, 2019

In the weeks leading up to Easter, practicing Christians commonly commit to a period of fasting and abstinence known as Lent. This commitment commemorates Christ’s 40-day journey into the desert, and the sacrifices modern day Christians make are meant to replicate those made by Christ during that period. Many Christians abstain from alcohol during Lent, but those who do may not realize that beer played a significant role in helping a small community of 17th century monks survive the Lenten fasting season. Monks from the Order of St. Francis of Paola, often referred to as “Paulaner monks,” fasted from all solid foods throughout the season of Lent during the 1600s. According to the Paulaner Brewery, the monks, originally from southern Italy, relocated to Bavaria, once an independent country but now a southern state in Germany, in the 1600s. Their strict religious orders forbade the monks from consuming solid food during Lent, but they still needed nutrients to sustain them. So the monks concocted a strong brew loaded with carbohydrates and nutrients. The monks must have liked the beer, as they continued to brew it and even began selling it in their community. An early doppelbock, the beer was one of the first offerings from the Paulaner Brewery, which opened its doors in 1634 and remains open today.