In 1997, at the Landhotel Kummerower Hof, about an hour east of Berlin, some bright spark discovered how great it is to bathe in beer. This watershed moment for humanity came about thanks to German beer purity laws codified in 1516, a cheeky journalist and someone having the sense to seize the opportunity Fate was laying out before them.
A brewery had a dark beer called Black Abbott that regulators insisted couldn’t be marketed as beer because it had sugar in it. Only hops, malt and water are allowed. And so it came about that a visiting TV crew suggested the brewers bathe in the surplus beer instead. Susanne Taschner-Schmidt, a physiotherapist at the Kummerower Hotel, got on the case, designed a recipe for the first beer bath and a star was born.
It usually involves 20–30 minutes soaking in a tub filled with dark beer, spring water, hops, malt and yeast heated to around 38°C and then 30 minutes or so spent laying under a blanket in a darkened room to allow further absorption of all the good stuff. Most beer bath purveyors recommend not showering for at least five hours afterwards to allow for even more of the goodness to soak in.
“A beer bath is quite a good wellness act. You can relax in the bath,” beer bath inventor Susanne Taschner says. “And the bath has a calming action. It’s good for your soul and your skin. The skin is after the beer bath very clear.”
• Unlimited beer, on tap, within arm’s reach of your own tub. #win
• The hops helps to open and cleanse your pores.
• Beer baths are practically made for Instagram.
• Malt is a great exfoliator.
• Yeast is high in B vitamins and has active enzymes that rejuvenate your skin.
• All the cool kids are doing it. Even in Iceland.
• Getting wrapped up like a burrito and laying in a darkened room for half an hour while your body continues to absorb nutrients is extremely relaxing.
There are plenty of places in southern Germany, western Austria and the Czech Republic in which to partake in the great beer bathing arts. Search for ‘beer (or bier) spa’, ‘bier wellness’ or ‘bier bad‘ (beer bath), ‘badebier‘ (bathing beer), and your location and see what pops up. There’s even a new one in Iceland.