"From the guy who washed away your sins comes a beer to wash away your thirst . . . Jesus Beer!"

So goes an online parody that imagines ice-cold bottles of the King of Kings of Beer.

Conceived about 10 years ago by a pair of New York wiseacres, Jesus Beer both rankles and amuses, depending on how seriously you take Christianity. Over a raucous Last Supper, Jesus declares, "This is my body, this is my blood . . . and this is my beer!"

Though the online site (www.jesusbeer.com) claimed the beer was imported by Holy Spirits Inc. of Bethlehem, Pa., no actual suds were ever brewed.

What would happen if someone tried to market Jesus Beer?

The Beer Institute, the industry's lobby group, say beer advertising "should not employ religion or religious themes." But that guideline is voluntary.

The federal government, meanwhile, does not ban the use of religion to sell alcohol.

There might be public protest, however.

A couple of years ago, for example, a California man threatened to sue California's Lost Coast Brewing for $1 billion over its Indica India pale ale labels, which were illustrated with the Indian elephant-god Ganesh holding a beer with his trunk. He claimed the label was offensive and intimidated Hindus from practicing their religion.

Lost Coast didn't back down.

Meanwhile, many other beer labels are illustrated with religious symbols, including the cross and various saints.

For years, Great Lakes Brewing made an ale called Holy Moses. Belgium's Alvinne brewery sells a trio of beers in the United States named after the Three Kings, Gaspar, Melchior and Balthazar.

What about sinners? They can always reach for a bottle of Victory HopDevil.

- Joe Sixpack