The Nordic Spa Where You Can Soak In A Bath Of Beer And Hops

Prohibition in Iceland held on a lot longer than it did in the United States. According to Iceland Travel, the island nation instituted a total ban on beer, wine, and spirits in 1915. The ban on wine was lifted in 1922, while spirits became legal again in 1935. But the ban on beer? That lasted for 74 years, finally coming to an end in 1989.

No wonder so many Icelanders enthusiastically embrace their lagers. Since the ban on beer was lifted, the country, which is about the size of the U.S. state of Kentucky according to Nations Online, has embraced craft brewing. As reported by Your Friend In Reykjavik, Iceland's first post-Prohibition craft brewery opened in 2006. Today, the country is home to more than two dozen independent breweries with most of them operating as members of the Independent Craft Brewers of Iceland, an advocacy platform to support local brewers.

And Icelanders aren't just drinking their beer; they're soaking in it. Embracing the age-old practice of beer bathing, Bjórböðin Spa invites guests to slip into a tub of beer and let the frothy liquid do its thing. People who have tried it say it's a uniquely relaxing experience (Uprooted Traveler reported noticing decidedly softer skin and feeling blissed out after trying a beer spa in Prague). Plus, some wellness gurus claim a good beer soak brings myriad benefits including skin rejuvenation, stress reduction, and improved circulation (via Forbes).

What's the buzz?

Located in Árskógssandur in northern Iceland on the banks of the fjord Eyjafjörður, about 250 miles northeast of Reykjavik (via Google), Bjórböðin Spa opened in 2017 (via Culture Trip). It's an offshoot of Bruggsmidjan Kaldi, Iceland's first post-Prohibition brewery established by Icelanders Agnes Sigurðardóttir and her husband Ólafur in 2006.

Bruggsmidjan Kaldi specializes in producing pilsner-style beer using a traditional Czech brewing method (via Bruggsmidjan Kaldi). Beer spas are common in and around Prague (via Travel Away), so the addition of a beer spa at the Icelandic brewery was a natural expansion.

According to Icelandair, visitors to Bruggsmidjan Kaldi soak for 25 minutes in handcrafted Kampala hardwood tubs filled with a warm blend of water, young beer, hops, beer salt, beer oils, and live yeast. The concoction is purpose-blended, and while it's not potable and it's not intoxicating, each tub is equipped with a self-serve tap ready to pour Kaldi Blond Lager (as long as you meet Iceland's minimum legal drinking age, currently 20).

Is it good for you? Icelandair breaks it down, claiming that the young, low-pH beer benefits skin and hair. The yeast is chock-full of proteins, B vitamins, calcium, magnesium, and zinc. The hops provide antioxidants and alpha acids. All these are vitamins and minerals that show up regularly in skin-care products, but without firm data, we'll settle for a giant "maybe" and sink happily into a tub for a bit of sudsy relaxation.