Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Beer and Fucking Tour... and finally, swimming in beer at the Starkenberger beer pools!

Sometime during or after Bill's last tour of duty in Germany, I found out about the Starkenberger Beer Pools, basically big stainless steel vats rendered obsolete by the modernization of beer making.  Someone involved with the brewery in Tarrenz, Austria had the bright idea to turn the huge vats into "swimming pools" for paying customers.  Given that I love beer tourism with all my heart and we have a lot more money now than we did last time we lived here, I easily convinced Bill that this was an experience worth paying 250 euros for.  So in August, Bill sent an email to the brewery asking to reserve a pool for last night.

When Bill inquired about reserving the pool, he got a pleasant response letting him know the pools were available.  He wrote back asking them to expect us and figured they had penciled us in, even though he never got a confirmation.  The email advised that we could reserve the pool for after 5:00, which, as it turns out, is when the tours end.  At 10:00, we'd have to vacate.  And we were allowed to drink all the beer we wanted.  We were limited to four people using the pool.  

Starkenberger Brewery also has a restaurant (which was closed for ruhetag yesterday) and a "Biermythos" museum.  I think the grounds are also beautiful, though due to the weather, we didn't get to see much of them.  I wanted to see the museum, so I told Bill we should go to the brewery right after we were done at Highline 179.  It turned out that it was a lucky thing I'd suggested that.



Front of the brewery and the museum.

After stopping in a nearby town to get some cash (not sure if you have to pay in cash, but Bill wanted to be prepared), we showed up at the brewery.  There was... you guessed it... a large tourbus group there.  The tour guide went to speak to the lady running the shop before Bill had a chance to ask her about the beer pool.  When he did, the lady looked confused, then a little panicked.  She was not expecting us.

First, she said that the pool had to be reserved in advance and costs 250 euros.  Bill said he knew and he had reserved it.  And he had the cash in hand.  Then she asked if he had the email.  He had to turn roaming on his cell phone because although he had printed the emails, he had forgotten to bring them.  Then, the lady said she needed to prepare the pool, so we might not be able to go in right at five.  That was fine with us.  I asked if we could see the museum.  She said yes and handed us a packet of information in English, which basically told us what we were looking at.

The brewery tour costs 7 euros per person, but since we were paying to use the beer pool, we didn't have to pay for the tour.  It's entirely self-guided and you go at your own pace.  Don't be surprised if you run into a beer maker as you make your way through.


Entrance to the museum.


The tour was very interesting, but I really needed to use the ladies room because my lunchtime beer had processed and, truthfully, I was there for the pool!  I rushed through the exhibits a bit.  We finally got to the big hall where we could taste some of the products made at the brewery.  The tour group was there and they were all drinking beer.  The tour guide who had spoken to the shopkeeper ahead of us told us the beer was one euro each.  Bill paid it, even though he didn't have to.  I think she got a kick out of getting tipped by the clueless Americans.

While we were exploring the museum, the shopkeeper found the email Bill sent.  She later explained that she'd been on holiday during that time, so her assistant had been the one who had answered Bill.  For some reason, she never saw the follow up email Bill sent.  She presented us with a bottle of beer liqueur and Starkenberger single malt liqueur for our troubles (yes, they do make whiskey and liqueurs, too-- whiskey is basically made the same way beer is).  That was a very nice and totally unnecessary, but much appreciated, gesture.

It was lucky that we got there early.  If we hadn't, we might have been disappointed.  If this post makes you want to reserve a pool at the Starkenberger brewery, make sure you get a confirmation from them.  Also, print out the emails you send and have them with you when you show up.

After the rowdy tour group cleared out, the shopkeeper found us and said it was no problem to use the beer pool at 5:00.  She prepared it for us and offered us robes, slippers, and towels.  We had our own towels and I had a robe, but we did use the slippers.  Then, at 5:00, we went to her, paid 250 euros, and she invited us to the beer pool.  She said she'd be back at 10:00 and we were welcome to use the infrared sauna and showers and drink as much beer as we wanted.  There was a tap with lager in the beer pool room or we could go back to the tasting room and get the biologic or dark beer from there.  I'd already had a few from the tasting room and I was itching to try the pool.

She set up a couple of lounge chairs for us and told us to have a good time.  Then she left us completely alone to enjoy the pool at our leisure!  Let me just say, it was awesome.  We had a wonderful time!  And honestly, after the beer pool experience, other beer spas will probably pale in comparison.  One of the things I loved most about the beer pool was all the cool art on the walls.  Whoever painted in there had a great, raunchy sense of humor!  I noticed all the people in the murals were naked and had hilarious expressions on their faces.






Cool exhibit in beer pool room showing how beer ferments.


















Beer tap.  All you can drink.  Plastic cups for safety.






Sauna.


Showers.


Yes, you can do this... or, at least we could.  The naughty murals were inspiring.  


Someone's gloves on a beam.  We thought they might be trunks.





I liked the panorama room, with its beautiful mural and scene of the surrounding countryside.

















One of many empty glasses.


This was the information about what we were seeing.  The museum has information in several languages.




The last room in the museum.


The way the pool looked before we got in.


At the beginning of our dip in the pool.




Check out the art!


We took a short break on the loungers because we needed to de-wrinkle a bit.



Bill was loving it!


Toward the end of our adventure.


A funny poem in the bathroom.


There is a special bathroom for patrons of the beer pool not to be used by employees or regular visitors.


Last look at the pool before we left...

I am about 5'2" tall.  The warm water and beer mixture came up to my chin.  It was deeper than the pool we had in our backyard in Texas and, yes, you really can swim in it.  We got in the pool, swam around, drank lots of beer, and eventually ditched our swimsuits.  We stayed until about 8:00, then decided we'd had enough of our decadent beer pool adventure.  One thing we didn't bring but should have is soap and shampoo.  But the shower worked fine for hosing off the beer aroma.



Gift!

We had an unforgettable time at the beer pool.  Yes, it was absolutely worth paying 250 euros to do it, especially after hiking up a mountain.  The hot beer water did nice things for my sore muscles.  Would we do it again?  Maybe, if we had the opportunity and the extra money.  One thing I will mention is that I had forgotten that the Tirol region is full of curvy, two lane roads.  If we did go to the beer pool again, I think we would stay in a hotel closer to Tarrenz than Lermoos because driving on dark, wet, curvy mountain roads after enjoying beer is not the safest idea.  Fortunately, Bill was very careful about not drinking much.  I have noticed that after my dips at the beer spas, my skin and hair is looking great!


Dinner last night at the hotel.  I was gushing about the beer pool!  And I was also a bit tipsy.


A video about the Starkenberger beer pool.  Here, I see they didn't fill it as high and they served beer in glass.  

We checked out of the hotel this morning.  The innkeepers had put a little goodbye card in the menu holder on our table.  It was a very nice gesture.  We said goodbye to the tour group and got on the road, experiencing no issues at the border.  We got home at about 11:45am, after making a stop at that same exit where I ran into the pooping, farting lady.  I think I speak for Bill when I say that our Beer and Fucking tour is sure to go down as one of our best trips.  We had a marvelous time.  I can't wait to start planning our next adventure!

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