Neuzelle is about an hour by train from Berlin.- Caitlan Carroll/Marketplace
The old monastery in Neuzelle sits next to the brewery that makes beer bath brews.- Caitlan Carroll/Marketplace
Monks brewed here at the Neuzeller Klosterbrauerei as early as the 13th century.- Caitlan Carroll/Marketplace
The biergarten at the Neuzeller Klosterbrauerei - the brewer of beer bath.- Caitlan Carroll/Marketplace
Some of the "healthy" brews at the Neuzeller Klosterbrauerei. Health conscious drinkers can sample Marathon Beer and Anti-Aging Beer in addition to the Beer Bath Beer.- Caitlan Carroll/Marketplace
Customers can bathe in the beer bath and drink it too!- Caitlan Carroll/Marketplace
The Kummerowerhof Landhotel in Neuzelle, Germany is home of the original beer bath treatment.- Caitlan Carroll/Marketplace
The biergarten at the Kummerowerhof Landhotel. Bathers can drink a beer and have some food after finishing their beer bath treatments.- Caitlan Carroll/Marketplace
Susanna Taschner-Schmidt at the Kummerowerhof Landhotel helped create the beer bath recipe. Here she prepares the beer bath.- Caitlan Carroll/Marketplace
Trying out the beer bath.- Caitlan Carroll/Marketplace
Don't just drink beer -- soak in it
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STACEY VANEK SMITH: We're heading into New Year's weekend. Time to load up on champagne -- or whatever your drink of choice might be. Sales of Craft beer were up this year -- about 10 percent. But really, drinking beer is so last year. Bathing in beer -- that's where it's at.
Caitlan Carroll reports on a spa in Germany that's putting new kinds of suds into their baths.
Caitlan Carroll: Susanne Taschner-Schmidt greets me at the door of a small hotel and spa. We are in the town of Neuzelle. Population: 20,000. About an hour east of Berlin. Home to the original beer bath.
Susanne Taschner-Schmidt: A beer bath is quite a good wellness act. The bath has a calming action. It's good for your soul and your skin.
Schmidt helped develop the recipe. It includes black beer, secret herbs and yeast. You can buy a bottle of the beer bath from the local brewery for about $5 and try it at home, or experience the full $60 treatment, like me.
We walk past the front room filled with antlers and country kitsch and head downstairs to the baths. It doesn't look like a conventional spa -- the tubs are in sort of cave-like room lit only by candles.
Carroll: Smells nice.
Taschner-Schmidt: Yeah. Here you can take your clothes off.
Schmidt turns on the tap and hot water flows out. She turns on another tap and dark beer runs into the tub. The bubbles start rising and I get in.
It's kind of a bizarre experience. Schmidt pours herbs and yeast in the water. It feels a little soupy and kind of makes my skin itch.
But beer baths like this have helped the build the economy of this tiny town. Germany has more than 1,200 breweries and 5,000 brands of beer. It's tough to stand out from the pack. The local Neuzelle brewery, which partners with the spa, now does a brisk business selling bottles of the beer bath as well as other healthy brews -- like anti-aging and marathon beer.
Schmidt says there are even copycat beer baths opening throughout Europe.
Taschner-Schmidt: But it's not like our beer bath. In some baths, they give a bottle of beer in the bath and that's all.
This beer bath is getting more popular. Between the brewery and the spa, more than 100,000 people visited Neuzelle this year.
I'm Caitlan Carroll for Marketplace.