I've decided the Czech Republic is the land of the "Beer and the Beautiful." That is, impossibly beautiful people as well as incredibly good beer.
Everywhere you look in Prague there is beer. According to Prague’s Beer Museum (yes, they have one!): "Czechs consume more beer per head than any country in the world."
They even drink more than the Irish. The amber ale is known locally as “liquid bread," and it certainly isn't unreasonable for an eager consumer to conclude that Czech Beers might be the best thing since, well, sliced bread.
Beer is big business. Annual production is nearly 20 million hectoliters (or roughly 16.7 million barrels). They export gallons of it, but the beer also brings people into the country in droves. And that’s why the latest tourist craze in the Czech Republic makes so much sense. Like most good ideas, when you hear first about it, you think, "Why didn't someone think of that already?"
The Beer Spa is a fairly simple concept -- a day spa with beer. Or more accurately, a day spa IN beer.
There are no sweetly scented candles here. It is yeast, malt and hops – an entire micro-brewery if you like, all dumped into a spa bath. “It’s all the ingredients that the beer is brewed from, so in an extreme case if you will brew it the beer comes out," said Martin Laciak, who owns one of Prague’s Beer Spas.
There's about half a dozen dotted around the country. At the Beer Spaland in Prague they say 80% of their customers come from overseas. But these visitors don’t just want to ‘drink-in’ the Czech experience; they want to bathe in it, too.
“It’s part of us.” said Sarka, a 25-year-old Prague student, bathing in beer for the first time. “Everybody says that we have perfect beer, the best in the world. So of course it’s a thing to be proud of."
The customers at the Beer Spa this morning are all impossibly attractive, so a warning, not everyone in Prague looks like this. Don’t come here expecting it.
For two people it will set you back almost $200 for 20 minutes in this heated beer bath. There is a beer tap next to the bath, with an unlimited supply of chilled beer for drinking. To get the full effect don’t shower, they say, for another 5 hours.
Laciak claims the process is good for the skin “the beer is actually very healthy. It was produced in ancient times as a medicine. It was not considered (as nowadays) as an alcoholic beverage. It contains a lot of vitamin B enzymes."
For all the promised rejuvenating qualities of the beer bath, lowering yourself into this cocktail of hops and yeast is a bit like dipping yourself into a dirty bath. There are chunks floating around, a green tint from the hops and it smells (unsurprisingly) like a big tub of beer. Perhaps in the land of the “Beer and the Beautiful”, it is better to consume the beer, than to be consumed by it.