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Can bathing in beer be good for you?

Beer spas, an ancient Eastern European tradition, have cropped up again in recent years, with a new treatment launching in the UK this summer. But what do they claim to do for your health?

Beer spas are coming to the UK

The UK’s first beer spa set to open in June 2024 in The Norfolk Mead, a boutique hotel in the east of England. The hotel is offering wooden hot tubs filled with what it claims to be “vitamin-rich” malt, hops and mineral salts, which it says are renowned for their detoxifying effects.

Bathing in beer is said to remove toxins from the body whilst increasing blood circulation. “Supportive benefits on the joints and muscles induce a stress reducing treatment,” the Norfolk boutique hotel claims on its website.

The treatment is complete with a personal beer tap, meaning each guest can drink beer as they bathe in it.

But where does the idea of bathing in beer come from? This isn’t the first time beer baths have been used as a spa treatment, and the tradition has circulated in Eastern Europe for centuries. The first beer bath recorded dates back to 921 AD. King Wenceslas, the Duke of Bohemia (now the Czech Republic) had his servants prepare him cold brewery baths with wort from the nearby abbeys.

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The tradition is still alive today. Hungarian capital Budapest’s Thermal Beer Spa offers a similar treatment; led by a ‘Bath Master’, hops, malt, yeast and a beer salt are added to a wooden bathtub filled with 36°C hot medicinal water.

In Croatia, San Servolo is a beer spa founded in 2013 and located in Buje in north-western Istria. The spa also produces unfiltered and unpasteurised beers which combine fresh water from the Sveti Ivan spring in the Mirna River with dry roasted malt, hops and yeast.

Beer spas can also be found in the Czech Republic capital, Prague, where one site offers treatments in hand-made, one thousand litres whirlpool tubs make of Royal Oak. Following a soak, guests are offered a bed made from pure wheat straw, where they can sup on a loaf of beer bread.

Drinking beer is part of the treatment, and scientific studies have suggested that ingesting small amounts of beer can be good for your gut and immunity, stimulating microbiota diversity.

The findings, outlined last year by Nutraingredients, highlighted that beer contains a beneficial brew of compounds. It cited researchers in Belgium, China, Portugal, Romania and Spain who have contributed to scientific publications that make the case for a beer being beneficial to gut microbiome. Read more here.

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