Beer on Ash Wednesday

Is beer permitted during the Ash Wednesday fast?

I’m supposed to go to a small party tonight. I’m not planning on getting drunk, but I was wondering whether I could nurse a beer or two during the night. This would be late at night, close to but probably before midnight.

I read online that all liquids that aren’t meal-like (i.e. milkshakes, smoothies) are acceptable while fasting, but I wasn’t sure about alcohol. I’m guessing it’s OK if the intent isn’t to get drunk, but I’m not really sure.

Thank you,

I’ve never been able to get a good answer on this, or on coffee for that matter. I know of one diocese site (forget which one) that says you can drink coffee all day, and it doesn’t interfere with fasting, but then a priest told me in confession that you could substitute coffee for breakfast when you fast, so it would count as one of the “small” meals. He also said that it would be okay to have a beer with your meal, but any more than than, especially after you’re finished eating would violate the fast.

I guess the question I have is about the appropriateness of “partying” on Ash Wednesday in the first place. :cool:


Monks used to brew thick beers especially for the Lenten Fasts.

I read somewhere that in the Middle Ages, monks in the monasteries would brew particularly dark, rich beers to sustain themselves during their (very strict) Lenten fasts. That suggests to me that beer in and of itself is not prohibited, but that it is also “meal-like” in a sense. (If you’ve ever had a really good bock or a Trappist beer like Chimay, you’ll know why the monks considered those rich beers “liquid bread.”)

I think this is probably something you’d have to discern for yourself. I think I’d abstain from alcohol as it doesn’t seem to fit with the penitential character of the day, but that’s purely personal.

I think it would be all right if it was a small gathering, say for a friend’s birthday. But I would definitely avoid a big, wild party with lots of drinking on Ash Wednesday.

Oh for goodness sake - this is stretching the historical uses of beer a bit far for 2009, don’t you think? :rolleyes:

Back in the day when fermented brews were used as a FOOD source, I can see the justification. But today, when beer is primarily a social beverage, and NOT used to sustain life, I think that it is really pushing it to use the history of this beverage to justify drinking it on Ash Wednesday.

For cryin’ out sideways - can’t we just abstain and fast, pray and observe the day in appropriate ways that do not include trying to find a way to have a beer??? :rolleyes:


Liza, I wasn’t trying to justify anyone’s actions - simply giving a little context. I DID point out that beer does have a rather food-like character, didn’t I? And did you miss where I pointed out that it doesn’t fit with the penitential character of the day?

I think your point would have been better made without the sarcasm and rolling eyes. Let’s please be charitable - it is Ash Wednesday, after all!

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Probably okay IMO. Here is a website discussing the Church’s legal position on fasting and abstinence on Ash Wednesday, including the Code of Canon Law and the apostolic constitution Paenitemini by Pope Paul VI:

Sometimes I read threads and posts on CAF and I say, “Wow I never thought of it like that. This is really awesome.” And then there are times I read posts and say, “Crud, I was gonna have a beer with my mushroom pasta tonight, but now I dunno.”

Thanks guys and dolls. Ya alls da bestest.

I had a slice of Chimay, once…

…If ya celebrated Mardi Gras properly yesterday you would not be wanting any beer at all today…:smiley: :stuck_out_tongue: :smiley: :wink:

I personally would abstain from the beer.

Liza, the thing I’m supposed to go to tonight is a small, special gathering organized by friends I don’t see often. It’s not “partying.” I think it’s quite presumptuous for you to guess at my motives, and I don’t appreciate it.

Thanks for all of the thoughts, everybody. I think it’s OK as long as I treat the beer as a normal drink and stick with one or two. I’m fasting all of Lent, so while my question was specific to Ash Wednesday, I was also thinking about what would be appropriate for my fasting during the rest of Lent. I’m also having less than the amount of food allowed today, so the calories/sustenance part of it shouldn’t be an issue (because I could just think of it as one of the small snacks that I skipped earlier in the day).

Is beer permitted during the Ash Wednesday fast?
JD88 seriously, the church will not have all list of all things permited. So there will be no list of permitted things. If you want a beer fine neither is there a prohibition. ( no pun intended.) Fast and abstain today, you are not even required to go to church. Many of us here will.

This is my first Ash Wednesday since entering the Church, Hilde, so I wasn’t sure whether there were more “rules” than the ones I knew about. I go to daily Mass, so I was definitely at Mass today.

I am only left to guessing when all I have to go on is what you put in your OP. And I deliberately put “partying” in quotes because I was not sure it was appropriate to the situation.

I still maintain that drinking beer on Ash Wednesday is not appropriate. You asked for responses, and I’ve got one too! :smiley:

Also - if you are not eating much you may wish to reconsider ANY alcohol consumption for obvious reasons. Even a small amount can have an impact on an empty stomach. :wink:


Wherever the Catholic sun doth shine,
there’s dancing, laughter & good red wine;
at least I have always found it so,
Benadicamus Domino!
–Hilaire Belloc

Enjoy your beer. Cheers!

You get 'em Liza !!:clapping: :tiphat:

I agree… we are only asked to fast for 2 whole days during the 40 days of Lent… might have an alcohol problem if you can’t go 2 days without.:rolleyes:


Is this really an appropriate response to a new Catholic who has an honest question? The OP does not sound like he has an alcohol problem or wants to go out and get wasted.

Sometimes I’m really stunned by the tendency of people on these boards to believe the worst about everyone.