Things to do with beer have progressed far beyond the perpetual exercise of lifting a cold mug to your lips. Not only can you drink and eat beer-cooked products, but the medicinal effects of this historical beverage are becoming a more and more popular way to relax. And so here in the Czech Republic we have a burgeoning beer bathing culture, with more and more beer spas opening in local breweries across the country.
The best experience to be had at Zámek Zabřeh undoubtably is their beer spa. A more individualized and intimate experience than other beer spas, only one spa is operated at a time. Located in the basement of the chateau, the domed brick ceiling, candles, and old wooden furnishings give it a rustic feel. This treatment also uses only ingredients from their brewery, insuring a high standard of quality.
To start, the procedure will be explained to you. If you don’t speak Czech, one of the receptionists will gladly translate. First, you’ll have a beer bath for 30 minutes. Right before your eyes they add the two most important ingredients, malt and yeast which have been used in the early stages of brewing, that have numerous health benefits for your skin. They also add their specially made beer bath oil. This tub for two is also a jacuzzi, adding an extra relaxing element. Importantly, a tap is fitted right into your tub, so you can help yourself to Pikard’s Svetly Lezak 11° during your entire spa treatment.
After your bath, comes the massage and oxygen treatment. The massage was therapeutic and done well by an experienced masseur. The oxygen treatment didn’t have as obvious of an effect on you, but was still relaxing.
At first sight, history is something definitive to Zámek Zábřeh. In the the year 1529, Zámek Zábřeh’s fortress was first mentioned in historic texts, and the oldest record of beer brewing within the chateau dates back to 1574. Today, they brew using the same original recipe, traditional technologies, and a completely natural brewing process.
Throughout the 17th century, Pivovar Pikard’s beer was successfully distributed in neighboring towns and villages, until the year 1874, when the records cease to mention brewing activity within the chateau walls. In 2007, the chateau was successfully restored and ready to once again brew beer, starting with a modest 600 hectoliters. Today, Zámek Zábřeh’s annual production is about 1000 hectoliters a year, all of which are traditional pilsner style lagers, completely natural, unfiltered, and unpasteurized.
Within the stone walls of Zámek Zábřeh, you’ll find a charming and historic hotel, with a total of 18 uniquely decorated rooms, making a stay overnight the best way to end your beer spa experience. There are 9 rooms decorated in a specific historic motif, such as the ‘hunter’s room’, (live animal lovers be aware), and 9 attic rooms, also pleasant, cozy, and spacious. All rooms include breakfast (which was a quite generous continental/Czech style spread), free wi-fi and parking. A nice combination of old world Czech history and beer culture, with the modern comforts of a 4 star hotel.
Zámek Zabřeh has one restaurant, located downstairs, and upstairs a pub, both serving the same beers on tap. Their menu focuses on traditional Czech cuisine, using local ingredients with a refined touch. The menu includes specials like svíčkova, goulash, and schnitzel. We particularly enjoyed their spare ribs, cooked in their very own dark lager to a succulent tenderness, as well as the beef cheeks braised in red wine. The garlic soup has the nice addition of an olomoucké tvarůžky, and is garlicy enough to keep vampires away for a decade. With wooden barrels of fresh trout just waiting to be on your plate, thickly cut, tender pork chops, and beef steaks, the kitchen here goes beyond your average brewery experience.
Service is impeccably professional. Never allowing an empty glass, they are knowledgable about the dishes and drinks on the menu, helpful, and happily speak English.
All freshly brewed and pumped directly to the tap from the brewery, Zámek Zabřeh always serves at least three beers from Pivovar Pikard: their 11° light lager, an 11° dark lager, plus a seasonal beer. Specially brewed seasonal beers for example include an 11° wheat beer (on tap in the summer) or a 13° amber lager special. At Christmas, they come out with their strong holiday brews, a special 14° light and dark lager.
Ostrava is the third largest city of the Czech Republic, located close to the eastern boarder with Poland and Slovakia. Developed as the industrial hub of the Czech Republic during the 19th and 20th centuries, Ostrava relied heavily on its coal mines and steel factories. Noticeably, this lead to a deterioration of air quality, and as industries changed, the economy suffered. Today, the air has improved, and the surrounding region of Moravian-Silesian Region is known for its beautiful mountains and scenic forests. Within Ostrava, the UNESCO site of Vítkovice is one of the most unusual historical monuments of modern industry, giving visitors a chance to visit mines, blast furnaces and other manufacturing facilities.
Getting to Ostrava from Prague is extremely easy by bus and train. Three train companies, Leo Express, České Dráhy, and Student Agency, all have convenient and quick connections, taking about 3.5 hours. At the time of our trip (September 2013), we used Student Agency- which was about half the price of České Dráhy. Student Agency’s trains are clean and comfy, and their services on board are fantastic. Ostrava’s Svinov train station is the closest, and then take tram 7 to Karpatská, and Zámek Zábřeh is just 3 minutes on foot.
Travel links (Czech Republic)
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