Null Komma Josef

There is a non-alcoholic “beer” in Austria called Null Komma Josef (“Zero Point Joe”). Some members and some of the edgier missionaries there (I served in Austria) used to partake of ol’ Joe. I didn’t, but when I returned to Austria a year after the mish (complete with goatee and ragged jeans) I did enjoy a Josef with some old (LDS) friends.

A friend of mine here in the US has told me about St. Pauli non-alcoholic “beer”. Apparently it’s good (i.e. the lack of alcohol doesn’t mean that it tastes like urine). On the plus side, it sounds like a nice “mild drink” which our own “Josef” would have enjoyed on the stoop of the Nauvoo Mansion House. But the nature of the Word of Wisdom in the Church today is no longer fully Joseph’s own brew: these “beers” are not strictly devoid of alcohol, with about 0.3% of the bad stuff remaining (hence “Null Komma”). Does this make them unkosher, or is 0.3% equal to the residue left behind from a mouthwash? Is it the “appearance of evil” that makes this a no-no? Or is there simply no point in drinking “beer” without the alcohol? Are we entering decaf coffee/Coke/green tea territory, or does “Joe” go a step beyond? (And if it does, why do some Austrian missionaries and members seem to think otherwise?) Prost!

Comments

  1. Ronan, near beer is the gateway to alcoholism. I expect to hear any day now that you have gone on a bender and gotten blind roaring drunk, been kicked out of the house, serenaded the neighbors with ribald British sailor ditties, used the fender of a stranger’s car for a urinal, and found yourself lying in the gutter the next morning clutching a paper bag containing Mad Dog.

  2. If people want to judge a “Joe”, they’d better never, ever, buy Scope.

    I think there’s no appearance of evil in choosing a non-alcoholic beer when the alcoholic form is right there.

  3. Ronan,

    Whenever I need to clear my head after having a few too many Josefs with the boys, I always turn to a nice hot mug of Sanka.

  4. The problem that I have with non-alcoholic beers and wines is that they’re way, way too watery to be very tasty at all.

  5. People drink beer for the taste?

  6. Ronan – official communication from the First Presidency defines “strong hot drinks” as coffee and tea. Therefore I would suggest that “coke” should be eliminated from the “decaf coffee/_____/green tea” comment. As for the non-alcoholic beer issue it seems simple – it’s not an alcoholic beverage.

  7. Coors makes nice non-alcoholic beer. I buy it every once in a while to drink with my pizza.
    Funny story about beer and the appearance of evil, on my birthday last year, my family went to Outback Steakhouse. I thought it would be nice to get an O’Doul’s with my steak. Unfortuantely, Oklahoma has strict liquour laws, and you have to be 21 to drink non-alcolholic beer. When I flashed my ID, I thought my mom was going to have a heart attack. She gave me dirty looks the entire night while I spipped on my watery malt drink. She was upset because the bottle said there was .05% alcohol in it. Big deal. The cough syrup my mom gave me when I was a kid had 10% alcohol in it, but she seemed to have no problem with that.

  8. Ben S., you’ve drank beer before?

    In any case, not all people drink beer for the taste… for example, some people drink Budweiser ;)

    I’ve heard that different types of beers are appreciated for their unique flavors and taste profiles. The different flavors derive from the type(s) of malt used, the type(s) of hops used, the type(s) of yeast used, and the method of fermentation. The skilled combination of these elements can result in tremendously rich and complex tastes and flavors.

    Removing the alcohol from the beer eliminates much of the flavor given by the malt and pretty much ruins any distinctive flavor given by the fermentation process.

  9. DKL,
    I’m told (by a beer affecionado) that St. Pauli is good stuff. He told me he drank a few by mistake and it took him a while to realise it wasn’t real beer. Seriously.

  10. Good story, Brett.

    My brother in law got carded at Fairway in New York, for buying a case of Virgils Root Beer. He was only 18 at the time, and the cashier did not get it when he told her (repeatedly) that it was not alcoholic. It looked like it was going to take quite a while for the cashier to figure that out, so I finally just stepped in and bought the case myself.

    We ordered him a custom t-shirt to celebrate the event, and it is one of his favorite shirts.

  11. Don Imus came up with the best advertising slogan for non-alcoholic beer. I suspect that he hasn’t received any royalties on it yet:

    “You’ll pee just as much!”

  12. Some 20 years ago we were attending a private New Years Eve party at the house of a friend. The very strict bishop of our ward was also there. My wife being an old party girl felt to bring some sparkling nonalcoholic wine to celebrate the occasion. The bishop didn’t like the gesture because of the appearance of evil. However, my wife persuaded him it was alright and that it was only grape juice. He drank and then read the bottle a little while later and nearly died. Like your beer it had some % of alcoholic in it. My poor wife is still embarrassed about this story and I can’t tell it in her presence. To me it was funny to see the t__ a__ bishop part take of the forbidden fruit. I am sure the Lord got a good laugh over it as well seeing my wife in her sweet innocence helped make our bishop more human. A little like Adam & Eve.

  13. I like Kurt, but I hope he doesn’t see this thread. Glad to see someone else acknowledge we have two WofWs, section 89 and the no booze, no tobacco, no coffee, no tea version. Section 89 clearly allows beer (mild barley drinks), whatever the alcohol content. In that context, alcohol means distilled spirits. And then there’s the good practice vs. commandment debate. Could the early Mormons have made it to Utah without their whiskey?

  14. Sorry to disappoint, DKL :)
    One of my LDS friends growing up described his experience with beer (don’t know what kind) as “camel piss.”

    Dave Barry, that eminent researcher, once described wine similarly, as “bat urine.” I have trouble believing that one, but hey…

  15. Does anyone think the Word of Wisdom will change? I seriously think it’s keeping a lot of people from joining the Church and staying active. It doesn’t seem very Biblical either. The New Testament is full of scriptures condeming food and drink laws. I think its funny the only biblical citation we can give for the word of wisdom is in the Old Testament. Even then you have to stretch it to include alcohol, tea, coffee, and tobacco
    Has anyone else notice how when someone slips up on the word of wisdom they seem to fall into grosser sins and inactivity? I think its sad that a cup of coffee could do that to someone. I mean, it’s just a cup of coffee. You don’t seem to have this problem with other relegions. I have friends who are Christians that drink, later felt bad about it, and stopped. They never stopped going to church or started to do worse things. The problem in our Church is that the Word of Wisdom is almost equated with the law of chastity. I mean, if you break either one, you can’t 1)take the sacrament and 2)go to the temple. I think many members, especially the youth, figure that if they’ve already broken the word of wisdom, you’re a vile unworthy member, so it’s no big deal to break the law of chastity.

  16. It doesn’t seem very Biblical either.

    Why in the world does the WoW need to be biblical? We’re not a bible-(or scripture-)based church.

  17. In my mission everyone — members, missionaries, the mission president — drank “malta” a barley drink made with unfermented hops. It’s label indicated trace amounts of alcohol, but nobody thought of it as even near the gray area,WoW-wise.

    Still, it does not appear in our fridge very often: it’s not a doctrical problem, it’s that it’s an acquired taste, and those who have not yet acquired the taste find it revolting. (Just as I did for the first three months of my mission, before I got hooked.) My wife calls it carbonated molasses.

  18. I have observed that for people transitioning out of the Church, the WoW is often the last thing to go. The WoW thus becomes a symbol of one’s loyalty to the Church. Having a beer or a glass of wine is a rite of passage for the one falling away. It says, very powerfully, “I no longer wish to follow Mormonism.” As such the WoW is a very powerful, even defining symbol of our membership. (Which is why we fret about 0.3% alcohol, or caffeine, or whatever. The modern WoW is genius.)

  19. We’re not a bible-(or scripture-)based church

    True, but I always felt that they should be used in tandem with divine revelation. For example, the doctrine of baptisim for the dead is biblically supported, as is the idea of degrees of kingdoms. Even the radical idea that God was once a man was based from a scripture in the Bible. Why shouldn’t the Word of Wisdom be biblically based as well?

  20. It’s also funny trying to explain the Word of Wisdom’s changing status to members outside the U.S. I remember telling my Mexican companions about J. Golden Kimball. They were shocked to hear that a person who drank coffee was called to be a GA.

  21. I am sitting here trying to imagine the fallout if Pres Hinkley stood up at the next conference and announced that beer was no longer prohibited. . .

  22. He would have to end conference by reminding members to not only obey traffic regulations, but to also have a designated driver.

  23. It would certainly liven up our Elders’ Quorum party!

  24. “Finding support” is not the same thing as “based on.”

    Given the Church’s dynamic understanding of authority, and the fact that the WoW is a time-specific commandment (“…in the last days”), I think the burden is on you to demonstrate a need or necessity for scriptural support.

  25. Does non-alcohlic beer smell as bad as the real stuff? If so, then count me out.

  26. Oh… oh…. oh…

    I have a funny beer story.

    When I first got to Grad School, I had just turned 21 and was hosting a NCAA final four party (It was when Utah had made it to the finals.) Since no one coming to the party were mormon, I went to get appropriate snacks/beverages. I bought the regular snack paraphernalia as well as some beer. When everyone came they had a great laugh–I had purchased O’Douls. My first (and, mind you, last) time buying beer. My friends still laugh at the cute-little-mormon-girl-trying-to-fit-in.

  27. Brett,

    I’d like to see the WofW dropped as a barrier to entry too, and preached as a good practice, as per the original intent. And by WofW, I mean section 89, not the four don’ts crap we push today. But that is extremely unlikely in a church that manages by crisis rather than proactive reform (polygamy, priesthood ban). Why do you think Covey remains a GA wannabe?

  28. Anonymous Convert says:

    “I like Kurt, but I hope he doesn’t see this thread. Glad to see someone else acknowledge we have two WofWs, section 89 and the no booze, no tobacco, no coffee, no tea version. Section 89 clearly allows beer (mild barley drinks), whatever the alcohol content. In that context, alcohol means distilled spirits. And then there’s the good practice vs. commandment debate. Could the early Mormons have made it to Utah without their whiskey?

    Comment by Steve EM — February 7, 2006 @ 2:55 pm”

    You raise a question I’ve wondered about since I joined the Church last year, Steve EM. Have “mild barley drinks” ever been defined by anyone in any sort of authority? I thought the same thing, i.e., beer as a mild barley drink, when I read the WoW for the first time but I never asked anybody about it for fear of looking like I was equivocating or something and not truly ready for baptism.

  29. Prudence McPrude says:

    What a surprise. The reprobates over here at BCC are, as always, trying to rationalize away the commandments of God and justify a lifestyle that just happens to conform with their debauched urges. Anyone who can feel the Spirit knows that all beer is prohibited, whether it contains alcohol or not. Yes, this includes Root Beer even. Search your hearts, for deep down you know it to be true. Luke, I am your father.

  30. Eh? Prudence is male?

  31. Anonymous Convert says:

    LOL @ “Prudence”!

  32. Convert,

    The concept the Church has of continuous revelation means that, yes, even the D&C can be overrided. If one were the kind of reprobate Ms. McPrude denounces, one might note the untidiness of a canonized revelation (D&C 89) being adjusted without a canonized rebuttal (as mild barley drinks do indeed equal beer). But that would be a bit lame, probably. The WoW as currently preached by modern prophets is what counts. One takes that or leaves that, but it is what it is.

  33. …circumstances alter cases, for what is now required for the people may not be required of a people that may live a hundred years hence… there are many [duties and callings] not written [in the scriptures], those for instance which are handed out to you by your President as circumstances require. Those imposed by the President of the Church of God, or by the president of any portion of it, are duties as necessary to be observed as though they were written in the Bible; but these requirements, duties, callings etc. change with the circumstances that surround the people of God.

    The Essential Brigham Young, p. 89.

  34. Agreed Ronan.

    I had a Zone leader that I shared an apartment with and he would go and get some non alcoholic beer to drink on P-Day (he was also known to leave the mission on P-Day). I personally don’t think that drinking the non-alcoholic stuff is particularly damning, but I won’t drink it because, if it tastes as bad as it smells, no thanks.

    On a side note, this same ZL brought a few bottles of sparkeling cider to our mission wide Christmas dinner (pizza) and the Mission President didn’t have a problem with it.

    I have heard rumors (not sure if they are true) that grape juice has roughly the same amount of alcohol as the non-alcoholic beers ect. Does anyone know if it’s true. It seems true…

  35. Another funny beer story. About six months after I joined the church, I was out with some people from work. My (now ex-) husband and some other spousal/SO types were also along. I had been drinking several NA beers, and by the time I was on #4, I thought, “Man, this tastes REALLY GOOD. WOW, this is really hitting the spot.” After a few more swigs, my (now ex-) husband asked, “So, can I have my beer back?”

  36. What about cooking with wine?

    My wife and I went out to eat the other night and wondered aloud how many times we (and others) have probably eaten something with wine without realizing it. Chicken Marsala? Tiramisú?

    I’m kind of on the fence with this issue, but my feelings are against non-alcoholic beer, though I’m not sure why. I once bought a bottle of the sparkling cider for my prom date and I for dinner, and she was the Stake President’s daughter. I didn’t even think twice.

  37. Tim,
    Cooking with wine sounds fine to me. Beyond the absolute essentials it is my feeling that we should allow everyone to make their own decisions as to what is the Law, and what is the Fence Around the Law.

  38. My culinary-school wife is writing a post for M* on being Mormon, cooking with wine and culinary school. Coming soon, I hope…

    She has no problem cooking with wine, but won’t actually buy any drinkable stuff.

    I’m curious why some have thought sparkling cider is a borderline issue. Thoughts? Clarifications?

  39. RE: Sparkling Cider

    I don’t think it’s bad at all, but some seem to be comparing it to non-alcoholic beer.

  40. “Has anyone else notice how when someone slips up on the word of wisdom they seem to fall into grosser sins and inactivity? I think its sad that a cup of coffee could do that to someone. I mean, it’s just a cup of coffee.”

    I agree and think this is problematic. Inventing consequences for practically harmless behavior that just so happen to coincide with other made up consequences for more damaging behavior… Very problematic. A person somehow can easily forget the real consequences from certain behaviors when these real consequences are in the shadow of “Church status.”

  41. Bob,
    Say that again. I haven’t got a clue what you’re talking about…

  42. Anonymous Convert,

    For background, I’m believing and active, but a most unorthodox Mormon. The EM in my handle stands for Evangelical Mormon. So take what I say in that light.

    When we’re asked to commit to the WofW before baptism and asked if we live it in the Temple recommend interview today, the church authorities mean no booze, no tobacco, no tea, no coffee. They don’t mean section 89. That said, a person living Section 89 could be consuming beer and truthfully tell their Bishop and Stake Pres that they are living the WofW, but not if they understand the real question being asked. I believe this change, contrary to the official explanation, occurred w/ President Heber J Grant. Before that the WofW wasn’t a barrier to entry into the kingdom and, pretty much only drunkenness would keep someone from going to the temple. I happen to think Pres Grant was wrong, but I don’t make the rules. Plenty of leaders after Pres Grant have had plenty of time to reverse him and have chosen not to. So maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t think so. I think we’re saddled with an unfortunate tradition that keeps some potentially good saints out of the kingdom.

  43. Mephibosheth says:

    I bought non-alcoholic beer by the case on my mission to help alcoholics get off the ale. This way, they could drink all they want to satisfy their cravings for the taste (yeech) and not get drunk until they could wean themeselves completely off the amber nectar.

  44. Ronan,

    If in any way coffee drinking leads to fornication in our Church, I’m disappointed. Better?

  45. I like belonging to a church with a health code that prohibits beverages that smell like a**.

  46. Bob and Ronan: Coffee leads to fornication? I’m headed straight to Starbucks!

  47. Dang it, DKL, now everyone knows! I was trying to explain things subtly so as to avoid what you’ve just started. Do you know what you’ve done?!

  48. “I’m curious why some have thought sparkling cider is a borderline issue.”

    Because alcohol smells gross and sparkling cider tastes gross.

  49. a random John says:

    Prudence,

    This might be too much information for your sensitive spirit, but last time I was at the red brick store in Nauvoo they were selling Joseph Smith brand Root Beer. It was quite good.

    I’ve also heard that Joseph Sr. invented some variety of root beer. I have no source for that that I can remember though.

  50. From Prince’s David O. McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism: “[H]e gently chided Apostle John A. Widtsoe, whose wife advocated such a rigid interpretation of the Word of Wisdom as to proscribe chocolate because of the stimulants it contained, saying, “John, do you want to take all the joy out of life? But he didn’t’ stop there. At a reception McKay attended, the hostess served rum cake. “All the guests hesitated, watching to see what McKay would do. He smacked his lips and began to eat.” When one guest expostulated, “’But President McKay, don’t you know that is rum cake?’ McKay smiled and reminded the guest that the Word of Wisdom forbade drinking alchohol, not eating it.”
    During intermission at a theatrical presentation, his host offered to get refreshments: “His hearing wasn’t very good, and I got right down in front of him and I said, ‘President McKay, what would you like to drink? All of our cups say Coca Cola on them because of our arrangement with Coca Cola Bottling, but we have root beer and we have orange and we have Seven-Up. What would you like to dink?” And he said, ‘I don’t care what it says on the cup as long as there is Coke in the cup.’”(p.23)

  51. Steve McIntyre says:

    While most Mormons probably (or should I say hopefully?) recognize that you can drink a Pepsi and still worthily attend the temple, I do frequently hear allusions to the supposed anti-WoW nature of caffeinated beverages. An extremely conservative former stake president in my stake used to refuse to issue temple recommends to Pepsi drinkers. The other day at Deseret Book, I noticed a t-shirt with the words “Caffeine Free” written on it in a parody of the Coca-Cola logo.

    It seems that Church leaders seldom (if ever) do anything to dispel this myth. If anything, it seems that we perpetuate it. Anyone who has ever had a meal in a temple cafeteria, on the BYU campus, or at the Polynesian Cultural Center knows that you can’t find a caffeinated drink. At a BYU football game, I once noticed a sign above a concession stand specifically advertising caffeine-free Coke products.

    I wonder if the belief that caffeinated beverages are all forbidden by the WoW will every make its way into “doctrine.” Any thoughts?

  52. Steve, interesting question. I think the Mormon bias against caffeine is decreasing, so it won’t make into doctrine. Although, it seems there were many people in the 50-60s who thought it was prohibitd (including my parents, and as a result, I’ve never tasted a caffeinated soda, although I personally don’t view it prohibited by the WoW).

    I’m going to quote McConkie’s Mormon Doctrine on the topic, not to suggest that it is an accurate descriptor of church policy or teachings, but to give a window into what some Mormons believed:
    In “Word of Wisdom” he identified tea, coffee, tobacco, and liquor as being “accepted by the Church as a measuring rod to determine the personal worthiness of church members.” He commented that people who interpreted the scripture as prohibiting other items were “unstable” and “cranks.” This applied to interpretations prohibiting eating meat–such was “evidence of apostasy.” Interesting, against his own advice not to expand the health code’s restrictions, he listed a fifth prohibited category items: “Certainly the partaking of cola drinks, though not included within the measuring standard here set out, is in violation of the Spirit of the Word of Wisdom.”

    There are some Mormons who still feel that way, but my impression is the percentage has decreased markedly.

  53. “On the plus side, it sounds like a nice “mild drink” which our own “Josef” would have enjoyed on the stoop of the Nauvoo Mansion House. But the nature of the Word of Wisdom in the Church today is no longer fully Joseph’s own brew: these “beers” are not strictly devoid of alcohol…”

    i’m sure a “mild drinks” discussion has sprung up on here before, but wasn’t joseph’s beer and wine that he enjoyed drinking non-non-alcoholic. in other words, joseph and pals got drunk from it.

  54. #28 “church that manages by crisis rather than proactive reform (polygamy, priesthood ban)”

    Perhaps you should read up on the priesthood revelation a little bit before characterizing it as “crisis management.”

  55. #35 “and the Mission President didn’t have a problem with it.”

    This rationalization never fails to make it into a discussion of the WoW. I’m just a little surprised that it took 35 comments to get there. This is precisely why I don’t partake of many things that one could argue aren’t “technically” covered by the WoW–I don’t want to be somebody’s excuse for their spiritual laziness.

  56. #43 “I think we’re saddled with an unfortunate tradition that keeps some potentially good saints out of the kingdom.”

    I should apologize for the judgmental tone of my posts, but I won’t. These “potentially good saints” (speaking hypothetically, of course) apparently don’t understand the place that obedience plays in being “in the kingdom.”

  57. Again, I’m floored. Root beer? C’mon!
    Caffeine has nothing to do with the WoW. If so, why wouldn’t we be able to drink yummy decaf lattes and get fat off of decaf-frappuccinos? Why do they sell chocolate brownies in the temple? Decaf Earl Grey at tea-time? Sorry, it’s not going to happen.

    Meanwhile, my former branch president used to have cases of near-beer piled up in the hallway of his house, which kind of amused me. I don’t think cola drinks have anything to do with the spirit of the law, but drinking near-beer I think does violate that spirit. Sparkling cider most emphatically does not violate that spirit. It apple juice people! And you know what else? It’s actually okay to drink out of lovely stemware. And yes, I used to buy grape juice (not NA wine, but grape juice) bottled from a certain Napa Valley winery because it was made with exquisite wine grapes and was delicate and yummy, but who cares if it came in a wine bottle? It was grape juice!
    Tiramisu, I want it, but since it contains the double whammy of coffee and alcohol, I don’t think it will be on my short list.
    And why is beer considered a mild barley drink? Japanese mugi-cha is a mild barley drink. Pero is a mild barley drink. But you can really get wasted off of beer. I’ve seen people throw-up from it plenty of times. It doesn’t seem that mild to me.

    Final note: when I lived in Saudi Arabia, I spent a really long time convincing these scary looking customs officials that the lovely truffles I had just brought back from England were ENTIRELY non-alcoholic. I swore it!! We got them through after much deliberating, and after we were home and eating them, my husband was looking on the box and said, “Hey look. These are champagne truffles!”

    Sorry for my tirade. I’m just cranky today I guess.

  58. At a reception McKay attended, the hostess served rum cake. “All the guests hesitated, watching to see what McKay would do. He smacked his lips and began to eat.” When one guest expostulated, “’But President McKay, don’t you know that is rum cake?’ McKay smiled and reminded the guest that the Word of Wisdom forbade drinking alchohol, not eating it.”

    That’s awesome! What about eating coffee candy? I love the smell of coffee and I love coffee candy. Is eating it okay, it’s not the same as drinking eight cups a day right? Ummmm, I especially like the coffee candy covered in chocolate.

  59. Does it also mean that we’re allowed to eat impossibly delicious Hagan Daas green tea ice cream? Tell me if anyone knows. I’m there!

  60. I know I’m making a pest of myself here, but does anyone remember back in the 80′s sometime, the general authorities coming out with a statement against cooking with wine? I remember a few ladies in my ward going ballistic because they wouldn’t be able to make good spaghetti sauce anymore.

    Speaking of which, Seth mentions that you have cooking wine but nothing drinkable? Any chef knows that you never cook with anything less than you’d be willing to drink. The better the wine, the better the flavor and the meal. Ahem. I mean, that’s what I’ve heard.

  61. Kleermaker says:

    Speaking of biblical inconsistency: Did anyone else grow up being told that the wine consumed by Jesus (and others) in the Bible was different because “in those days” it was really only grape juice?

  62. Kleermaker, that’s what I was always told!

  63. I use cooking wine all the time.

    I like beer. If I found a beer with non alcoholic content I’d drink it. I don’t think it’s about the beer, I think it’s about the alcoholic.

    I don’t think it’s evil to drink beer. I think it can cause addiction and bring pain to certain people. God is trying to protect us, not punish us.

    I’m sort of sick of that appearance of evil crap.

  64. I would just like to announce, in response to Ronan’s original post, that I have no opinion on this topic. Nor do I care to.

    Being a somewhat opinionated young man, this is a event of some noteworthiness. To me anyway …

  65. Sorry, Seth. I meant Ben S. (comment #39). Whoops!

  66. I always found that grape juice nonsense to be a hoot. Just how long do they think grape juice without refrigeration remains grape juice? It also takes a lot of chutzpah to impose a modern good practice on Jesus’ time.

    Mike B. — I’m sorry, but our church doesn’t reform proactively, hence why I’m not holding my breath waiting for any WofW reform back to its original intent. Like the WofW of today (not section 89), the priesthood ban was a tradition, not a doctrine, that could have been lifted at anytime without any need for a revelation. While we now know some church leaders were pushing to lift the priesthood ban from at least the 1950s, if you don’t think the Temple going up in Brazil was the crisis that finally pushed a resolution, you and I live on different planets.

  67. Steve EM,
    Everyone already knows you live on a different planet, but it is good to hear you acknowledge you are aware of it. I like you too, bud.

  68. if you don’t think the Temple going up in Brazil was the crisis that finally pushed a resolution, you and I live on different planets.

    Steve EM,

    Hello from Neptune. I believe the burgeoning interest in the church in Africa had a lot to do with it, as well.

  69. Ronan, I’m surprised you freely admit that you drink NA beer. Don’t you know that it is the gateway to alcoholism and debauchery? I expect to hear any day now that you have gone on a bender and gotten blind roaring drunk, been kicked out of the house, serenaded the neighbors with ribald British sailor ditties, used the bumper of a stranger’s car as a urinal, and found yourself the next morning lying in a gutter, clutching a brown paper bag containing a bottle of Mad Dog. Repent now, while there is still time.

  70. Kleemaker,
    I was told that they did drink alcoholic wine but did so because of its antibacterial properties. For instance you could put some wine in water to purify the water much the way we are taught to use drops of bleach to purify water while camping. I’d dare say that wine added to water would taste much better than corox water. There were the ‘wine bibbers’ who drank it just to get a buzz, but that was clearly frowned upon.

    Does anyone knkow if this is totally wrong or can I keep telling myself this?

  71. Regarding Sanka (#1) and cola drinks (various #s), I find this interesting:
    In early 1959, First Presidency member and apostle J. Reuben Clark received a letter from a mother concerned that her son or future son-in-law had been advised by a church leader (possibly Clark) that “people should stop reading things into the Word of Wisdom. It is not against the Word of Wisdom to drink coke. It is okay to drink Sanka coffee.” Clark responded with the following letter:
    “April 7, 1959
    Dear Sister McCue:
    Your letter of April 2, 1959, has been received by President Clark. In your letter you ask certain questions regarding the Word of Wisdom and “card playing.”
    He wishes to say that you are of course familiar with the Word of Wisdom, but that you might wish to read in connection with this matter Section 49, versus 18 and 19.
    In response to your questions regarding the drinking of “coke” and “Sanka coffee”, I quote below statements that are frequently sent out in connection with these matters:
    “I am directed to suggest that normally you should discuss such matters with your bishop, and if the bishop is unable to answer your questions he should confer with the president of the stake. If the president of the state does not have the information, he should communicate with the President of the Church.
    “However, I am directed to tell you with reference to the cola drinks that the Church has never officially taken any attitude on this matter, but the leaders of the Church have advised, and do now specifically advise, against the use of any drink containing harmful habit-forming drugs under circumstances that would result in the acquiring of the habit. Any beverage that contains ingredients harmful to the body should be avoided.”
    As to the drinking of “Sanka coffee,” I am directed by the Brethren to say that the drinking of a beverage made from the coffee bean, from which all caffeine and deleterious drugs have been removed, is not regarded as a violation of the Word of Wisdom.”
    …[paragraph on card playing]
    Faithfully yours,
    [Secretary for J. Reuben Clark, First Presidency Member] Copy of letter in J. Reuben Clark Papers, BYU Special Collections Library

  72. Oh, and since we’re sharing beer stories my parents have great one. They joined the church in their 20′s and were well acquainted with the alcohol industry before converting. After joining the church they were invited over to a couple’s house for dinner. After dinner they were offered some home-made root beer. My parents took a sip and recognized not root beer, but home-brewed beer. My parents told their hosts “This is real beer.” Their hosts insisted “No it’s not! It’s root beer, we didn’t add any alcohol!”

  73. Please don’t ever serve or suggest non-alcoholic beer to a recovering alcoholic. Or former alcoholic, whatever you want to call him/her. Many people who have successfully given up drinking may not know these things, and not realize the dangers. But I believe this is common knowledge in AA circles.

    Two reasons:
    a) The smell and taste can bring back “those old memories” and all the negative thoughts and emotions involved in drinking, send the person over the edge as in “What the hell, I’ve gone this far, might as well have a REAL beer.” Drinking non-alcoholic beer is like visiting a bad old friend. You don’t even want to hang around him/that any more. After I gave up drinking, I found I couldn’t even drink lime-flavored Diet Coke because it took my mind back to when I had all those Rum-and-Coke-with-a-twist-of-lime, Cuba libres. There’s nothing wrong with lime-flavored Diet Coke. But for _me_ there is. It takes my mind back to places where I don’t want to return.

    This discussion is close to asking “Is the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue” pornography? Regardless of whether you think it is or not, someone who is a recovering porno addict should not “read” that magazine. Same concept.

    b) That .3% alcohol is enough to alter your blood chemistry just enough, (not enough to get buzzed unless you drink 10 bottles within 1/2 hour), but it’s enough for an alcoholic to “feel.” You’re going to get just the beginning of that “familiar feeling.” That chemically based “familiar feeling,” even though it is much less than “a buzz” is even stronger than the taste/smell assocations described above.

  74. Mark IV,
    I thought I obfuscated the issue as to whether I drink NA malt beverages today :)

    Bookslinger,
    That’s a really good point. I am glad too that you point out that this issue is one for personal application only. As for SISI, I think it is in fact pornography.

  75. #62 & #71, it is correct that the anti-bacterial properties of alcohol did render relatively unsafe drinking water safer, hence the practice of cutting wine with water and/or fruit juice. There is a post here that gives details and relevant links.

    “new wine” was unfermented grape juice, everything else was at various stages of fermentation. They could not control fermentation back then the way we do now, not having any kind of distilling means, refrigeration or temperature control, or any of that other gadgetry. They certainly added natural sugars of some sort to boost alcohol content when they intended to get drunk, but even still, that isnt anything like what modern alcohol production is like.

  76. Anyone who has ever had a meal in a temple cafeteria, on the BYU campus, or at the Polynesian Cultural Center knows that you can’t find a caffeinated drink.

    That may be, but at least according to the web site for the Polynesian Cultural Center, you can get decaf coffee there. Go figure.

    I’m sort of sick of that appearance of evil crap.

    Blame the King James translators for that (or the changes in the English language). What Paul really says is to avoid evil in whatever form it appears. Paul says absolutely nothing about avoiding good/neutral things just because they look evil.

    That .3% alcohol is enough to alter your blood chemistry just enough

    For an alcoholic, perhaps. But for the rest of us, no problem. Orange juice has that much alcohol.

    Copedi (who wonders why so many people worry about caffeine yet wouldn’t think twice about eating a 10-ounce steak)

  77. Copedi, the caffeine would be attached to the explicit prohibitions of D&C 89:4-9 by inference, whereas v. 10-17 are admonitions. The consumption of animal flesh is nowhere prohibited, its consumption is only discouraged in v. 12-15. Humans are granted license to consume animal flesh in Gen. 9:3.

    And, yes, I am a vegetarian, so watch yourself before you accuse me of being a hypocrite.

  78. Mild barley drinks can be made from boiling roasted barley grains, like tea, and then filtering out the grains. You can buy whole grains of roasted barley at many Asian stores. Many places also have it in powdered instant form.

  79. Well Dorito, as long as you’re not preachy about it and you’re not a vegan, I guess that’s ok.

  80. Steve EM, thanks for letting me decide what I put in my own mouth. Preciatecha. And what if I am a vegan? You going to come over here and make me drink some BGH-loaded milk?

  81. Concierge says:

    Well…we all need to remember beyond beer and Scope and orange juice, that vanilla contains a huge amount of alcohol (some, are up to 90% alcohol).

    Sure the alcohol cooks off in baked goods, but think of all the times it isn’t cooked off – the whipped creme desserts, frostings, creme donut fillers, homemade ice cream, and so on – flavored with the stuff.

  82. Well Dorito, I personally feel milk is for babies too. But as for vegans, they’re nuts.

  83. I wonder if the belief that caffeinated beverages are all forbidden by the WoW will every make its way into “doctrine.” Any thoughts?

    We had a Stake President that told us there was a ‘higher WOW law” that the most righteous should try to follow, and eventaully everyone would be asked to follow. It included no tea whatsoever, no hot cocoa, and no caffienated drinks. I never heard about it again, we moved shortly after we heard him talking about it. Not for that reaason of course, although any heaven without an occasional Dr. Pepper doesn’t sound like heaven to me.

    Speaking of which, Seth mentions that you have cooking wine but nothing drinkable? Any chef knows that you never cook with anything less than you’d be willing to drink. The better the wine, the better the flavor and the meal. Ahem. I mean, that’s what I’ve heard.

    I’ve heard this also, my problem is how do you know what is good wine? The few times I’ve needed it I’ve just bought the cheapest I could find, knowing I wouldn’t use it again for months.

    Speaking of biblical inconsistency: Did anyone else grow up being told that the wine consumed by Jesus (and others) in the Bible was different because “in those days” it was really only grape juice?

    My wife told out primary class this last week. I said I thought it was wrong, but didn’t think it was a great idea to try t figure it out in front of them, so I said we’d get back to them. Wine is wine right? Christ didn’t turn water into grape juice, right?

  84. J. Watkins says:

    I ought to bookmark this page just so I can come back and read the most amazing collection of LDS beer stories I’ve ever read!

  85. Steve McIntyre says:

    I’m sort of sick of that appearance of evil crap.

    Agreed!

    I can’t help but dislike the phrase “appearance of evil” when it’s applied to some situations, particularly those dealing with the blurry edges of the Word of Wisdom. In high school, I sometimes went with friends to coffee shops, and routinely drank hot chocolate. My cup looked the same as the cups my friends were drinking out of, and I was sitting in a coffee shop, and I’ve been told by some that this constitutes an “appearance of evil.” My main beef is that this label automatically labels coffee-drinking, tea-drinking, etc. as “evil.”

    While Latter-day Saints are counselled not to partake of these substances, I think labeling coffee-drinking as “evil” is extreme and certainly offensive. I honestly don’t think that my coffee-drinking friends are immoral because they drink it. For anyone outside of the Church, choosing to drink coffee or tea really isn’t a moral issue.

  86. Is it ok to buy a date a few Long Island Ice Teas if you are just having OJ/ice?

  87. I prefer my non-alcoholic beer with an essence of bud inside. Nah, just kidding, although I’ve partaken of much bud in my past. I like the taste of beer (non-alcoholic or otherwise); Shiner from home in Texas was the best. I only drink o’douls’s and when I want to get really goosed I get Barqs Beer of Root. So, beer does taste good. Here is the real kicker question: is it morally ok to drink mushroom tea if it is made with grape Kool-Aid instead of ‘tea’? GST #47: What does ass actually taste like? I mean, are you referring to the perianal area or actually inside the rectum? Or, are you talking of burros?

  88. I smell a**…

  89. Steve EM,
    Do you really care what we think is ok?

  90. I’ll have you all know that my brother, the unsung J Stapley, has been known to buy the big jug of Vodka from the liquor store because he makes his own vanilla extract (they didn’t have straight grain alchohol).

  91. I think labeling coffee-drinking as “evil” is extreme and certainly offensive.

    I agree. My husband teaches the 12-13 yr old Sunday school class, and the topic of ‘making good choices’ came up. The example in the manual was about some peer pressure thing where a girl was thinking about smoking. The kids were very eager to say that she shouldn’t because smoking is evil. I was very quick to say that smoking wasn’t “evil” or inherently wrong like murder. It is something that the Lord told us not to do, and that is the reason we don’t do it.
    Teaching kids that those things are evil sets them up for a world of hurt when they learn that former church leaders did all the things the WOW counsels against. And when they are in the peer pressure situations their friends aren’t going to have a hard time convincing them that it isn’t evil and there is no reason not to smoke or whatever. It also bugs me because it sets them up to view people who do drink and smoke legally and responsibly as people who are essentially evil. It’s kinda tough to be friendly and loving to people who you think are evil.
    Sorry for the rant, but this whole idea bugs me to no end because I’ve seen people be shunned and looked down on by members of the church because of this attitude. Those people were good people and may have been receptive to the gospel, but they aren’t anymore.

  92. First time comment here, but I had to relate my own experience with hard drinks.

    As a kid I noticed that we had a case of Canadian Whiskey in our storage room. So, when my parents went out of town for the weekend my freshman year, it was party time.

    I had a few friends over, we brought up the unmarked silver cans (yes, they can whiskey, right?), used a can opener to gain entry into one, and it smelled awful. Of course it’s supposed to smell bad, so we stood around wondering who would be brave enough to try it.

    Fortunately I didn’t – the friend that took a big swig suddenly turned several shades of green, bolted from the house and threw up in the street.

    We then took a can opener and removed the entire lid, only to find out that it wasn’t whiskey but rather old, somewhat rotten canned potatos.

    It turns out my mom would frequent the state liquer store to retrieve the empty boxes that she would then use for storage.

    It wasn’t a very good party.

  93. Can anyone explain to me how Mormon culture about alcohol changed between Sec 89 and HJ Grant?

    Did it become an administrative nightmare to have some people brewing their own stuff (allowed by 89, right?) I wonder if it followed a similar course as caffeine has in our time. A few rigorous believers extrapolating from the revelation, then encouraging others to follow.

  94. Gander- There are some good resources available.

    There’s the chapter on the WoW in Thomas Alexander’s Mormonism in Transition (a history of the Church from 1890-1920).

    There’s this article, which explains the evolution from an apologetic perspective (defending JS and BY against the Tanner’s charges of hypocrisy in this regard.)

    Paul Peterson’s MA thesis tracing its development, here

  95. Anonymous Coward says:

    France sells a similar drink called Panaché: a revolting mixture of beer and lemonade. I Am Not Making This Up.

    We had a major incident in Nantes one year, when a bunch of us got together the night before p-day for a weird mission tradition called a “burrito fête.” Some American missionaries get so homesick for Mexican food they try to make their own tortilla shells and beef-’n’-bean burritos. The rest of us learned to choke it down to keep district peace.

    Anyway, my companion and one of the other district Elders head off to the store for drinks — and come back with a bag of ice and a couple of cases of Panaché, which they promptly tossed into the bathtub. (There are two kinds: one’s completely alcohol-free and the other is 0.5%. They got the 0.5% stuff.) I was a pretty straight-arrow missionary but I was more worried about the frat-party attitude than the 0.5% near-beer.

    I went to bed shortly after dinner, but three of the others stayed up waaaaay past regulation hours. Turns out they were playing poker and drinking near-beer. Now, maybe that’s not breaking any official rules, but they were missionaries, for crying out loud.

    What turned it into a major incident, though, was that one guy got so sick from beer/lemonade and missionary cooking that he puked off the balcony. While the other two were egging him on and taking pictures.

    We had a greenie in the apartment. He bypassed the mission president entirely and called the Area President the next morning. The three elders got hauled down to Bordeaux to meet with the mission president, and Panache (which the elderly retired office accountant missionary used to drink with pizza when watching sports) was officially a banned substance from that point on.

  96. AC,

    That’s a great Francophone mission story. I served in the late 70′s au Sud de France, loved it. Things haven’t changed much: Pagans/Arrows, Friday night poker and molaroffs (shortbread cookie eating contests) and other frat stuff in larger towns. However, in my time rats were ostracized until they straightened up. That greenie would have had one tough mission in front of him. I worked hard and played hard and was labeled a pagan. But I never went to Spain or the movies. I did go skiing w/ investigators twice, dated occasionally if things were slow and went to the beach when I needed a fix. Oh, we found most of our investigators on the golf course and would often teach people till ~1 a.m. in the summer. I was in the leadership most of my mission and could never talk about those effective methods at zone conference. The MP put up w/ a lot of unorthodox sh-t because we had an 80/20 performance pattern (80% of baptisms came from 20% of missionaries, typically hard working pagans). Arrows rarely baptized then.

    Anyway, been back several times. Truly a great country.

  97. One of the things to remember is that there is no guarantee that NA beer has exactly .5% alcohol at all. (All I’ve seen bottled in this country say .5) It may have none at all or it may have any amount up to .5%. The main reason it says anything about alcohol content at all on the label is due to the volstead act, which defined alcoholic beverages as anything above 1/2%. I suspect the reason people are carded in some states for NA beer and not in others is due to stricter legal definitions of an alcoholic beverage than the Volstead Act that have been adopted by the respective states.

    Now having said that, there is a difference between an alcoholic beverage and cough syrup, which has alcohol to act as a solvent for the active ingredients. Otherwise, since it is OK to drink Nyquil which has 10% alcohol it would be OK to drink anything with 10% alcohol.

  98. Like some others who commented on this thread, I too was taught all through my youth that “wine was different back in biblical times.”

    Obviously, this is a load of hooey. Lot’s daughters didn’t get him drunk on grape juice, Noah didn’t pass out from grape juice, and, most astoundingly, the Lamanites didn’t fall asleep and neglect the defense of their cities from grape juice.

    Wine is wine. No one wants to try to explain to children why it’s alright for Jesus to drink wine, but not us. Or why it’s okay that Joseph Smith and the early apostles regularly drank alcoholic beverages, but not us.

    I’ve never had a drop of alcohol in my life, and I’ll be d—ed if I know why.

  99. a random John says:

    I’ll be d—ed if I know why.

    De-diddley-lighted?

  100. Yay, 100 comments! Wow!

  101. Ned,

    You’ve questioned your faith and been less active how long? And you’ve never tried anything? Now I know you’ve been long married, but what do you do when you hang with your buds?

    Maybe it was a reactionary thing, but in the less active cliques I hung with at BYU, life revolved around booze, women and speed (for studies). I had poor self esteem back then, but I fitted right in at Michigan (grad school) and felt much better about myself. I think that was my first step in coming back to church.

  102. No one wants to try to explain to children why it’s alright for Jesus to drink wine, but not us.

    Why not? I’ve certainly told my kids what I think the reasons are.

  103. I’ll have you all know that my brother, the unsung J Stapley, has been known to buy the big jug of Vodka from the liquor store because he makes his own vanilla extract (they didn’t have straight grain alchohol).

    That sounds interesting, how do you do it?

  104. Floyd the Wonderdog says:

    For those of you (comment #17) who think that dietary restrictions were eliminated in New Testament times:

    As touching the Gentiles which believe, we have written and concluded that they observe no such thing, save only that they keep themselves from things offered to idols, and from blood, and from strangled, and from fornication. –Acts 21:25

    The members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Meridian-day Saints were forbidden to eat blood of meat that had been offered to idols or strangled. Does this change your view of the WoW, including the forbidden four?

  105. Mahonri-Moriancumr says:

    Near beer is the tool of the Devil, as well as the Metric System…

    My car gets 40 rods to the hog’s head, and that’s the way I likes it.

    Seriously… orange juice has more alcohol than non-alcoholic beer (see also: fermentation of oranges).

    Appearance of evil? Are people who drink beer evil? No. At least, not in my humble opinion. If I am wrong, may my eternal soul be shredded up and strewn on a parade of murderers and single mothers.

    Now excuse me while I drink my Diet Coke and eat meat (see also: not in a time of famine).

  106. I had a Kaliber last week. Really, really good. If you only ever try one non-alc, try this one (brewed by Guiness). Yummy.

  107. An-onymous says:

    For those who cook with wine, there was an interesting special on PBS for wine appreciation a few months back and the speaker suggested that you only buy as much wine as you will will actually drink, because storing wine just lets it go bad. His recommendation was that you freeze any leftover wine in ice cube trays. Then pull them out for drinking, or as a handy method of adding wine to dishes for cooking.

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