Austrian old folks toast success of ‘Grandma and Grandpa’ beer

A group of octogenarian Austrians are celebrating after their hipster beers have become the toast of Vienna's old folks' homes.

Austrian old folks toast success of 'Grandma and Grandpa' beer
A group of octogenarian Austrians are celebrating after their hipster beers have become the toast of Vienna's old folks' homes. (Photo by Alex HALADA / AFP)

The pensioners began with brewing their “Grandma and Grandpa” beer two years ago, and it went down so well they have now expanded into a light lager called “Hellmut and Hellga”, a pun on the German word for light beer, “helles”.

Every Thursday morning, a group of about eight men and women gather in their Viennese retirement home to brew 150 bottles, but the beers have been so successful they are having trouble keeping up with demand.

Resident of the retirement home in Atzgersdorf label bottles during the weekly beer brewing in Vienna on July 21, 2022. (Photo by Alex HALADA / AFP) 

“We meet up, talk about it (the beer), make jokes about it, and this way another day goes by — a nice day,” 87-year-old Rupert Jaksch told AFP.

“I like it very much because it is slightly sweet.”

“I like to keep busy, it doesn’t matter with what,” said 88-year-old Ingeborg Zeller as she put on the labels.

The pensioners began with brewing their “Grandma and Grandpa” beer two years ago, and it went down so well they have now expanded into a light lager called “Hellmut and Hellga”, a pun on the German word for light beer, “helles”. (Photo by Alex HALADA / AFP)

Although none of the pensioners have ever done any brewing before, the beers have been a hit, selling out in the cafeterias of 30 retirement homes across the Austrian capital.

Care workers at the Atzgersdorf home on the outskirts of Vienna help the residents with the brewing.

The beers are based on a Viennese recipe from 1841 and use only Austrian ingredients, said Christoph Gruber, who runs the project for the home’s owners, Kuratorium Wiener Pensionisten-Wohnhaeuser (KWP).

Ironically, the beer project was set up to help residents maintain their motor skills and keep them fit mentally.

And the residents and the fans of their beers can drink to that…

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Eight habits that show you’ve embraced life in Austria

Living anywhere as an international resident will have an impact on your life, but if you recognise any of these habits then you have truly embraced the Austrian lifestyle.

Eight habits that show you’ve embraced life in Austria

Life in Austria can be similar to many other European countries, but there are some aspects that are distinctly Austrian.

Here are eight habits that show you’ve integrated into the Austrian way of life.

FOR MEMBERS: 23 essential articles to help you navigate life in Austria

Indulging in coffee and cake

Coffee and cake is almost as integral to the food culture in Austria as the Wiener Schnitzel.

So say goodbye to the diet, ignore any thoughts of guilt and get stuck into a slice of Sachertorte, Punschkrapfen or Linzer Torte

Preferably with a delicious coffee on the side.

READ MORE: Caffeine, war and Freud: A history of Vienna’s iconic coffee houses

Participating in winter sports

Austria, especially the west of the country, is a winter sports enthusiasts dream.

The Alps offer an almost endless choice in ski resorts, gondolas and mountain huts, with winter sports options ranging from skiing and snowboarding to snowshoeing and Langlaufen (cross-country skiing).

Needless to say, if you live in the Alps, winter sports quickly become a central part of the lifestyle during the cold months. After all, it’s healthy, fun and even a bit dangerous (if that’s your thing).

It’s also a great way to explore the landscape of Austria and get a deeper understanding of the central role of winter sports in Austrian culture.

Downing tools for lunch

Lunch in some other countries (especially places like the UK) is often a sad sandwich while sitting at a desk. 

In Austria however, lunch is an important part of the day and many people sit down at midday with their colleagues or families to enjoy a proper cooked meal.

This is a prime example of the healthy work-life balance that residents in Austria enjoy, and is a much-better habit to embrace than working through a lunch break.

Wearing house shoes

In most Austrian households, people do not wear outdoor shoes inside. Instead, they opt for house shoes, otherwise known as slippers in English or Schlapfen in some Austrian dialects.

Also, many Austrian homes do not have carpet on the floor, which means walking around with bare feet or just socks in the winter can get cold – fast.

So if you’ve invested in a pair of house shoes or, even better, you have a backup supply for guests, then you have fully embraced life in Austria. 

READ ALSO: ‘I’ll probably return to the UK’: Moving to Austria as a Brit post-Brexit

Being punctual

Typically, Austrians are punctual people and don’t appreciate lateness.

For this reason, many international residents make an extra effort to be on time (or early), and it’s not uncommon to become stressed if you know you will be five minutes late.

As frustrating as this can be, it’s actually incredibly polite to be early for a meeting and not a bad habit to pick up.

sparkling water

(Photo by Giorgio Trovato on Unsplash)

Drinking sparkling water

People like to drink sparkling mineral water in Austria.

In fact, sparkling water is so popular that if you order a Mineralwasser (mineral water) in a cafe or restaurant, the sparkling variety is often served unless stilles Wasser (still water) is specified.

Want to be more Austrian? Then simply switch from still to sparkling water.

Stripping off

Countries in Central Europe are much more comfortable with nudity than other nations, and it’s no different in Austria.

The main place to expect an encounter with naked people in Austria is at the sauna. There are even some saunas that have a naked-only admission policy and won’t let people in if they are wearing swimming gear.

People also like to get naked at lakes – especially at the more remote or quieter locations – or at least go topless (for the women). 

The reality is, no one bats an eyelid. So put your prudish instincts aside and don’t be afraid to strip off.

READ ALSO: What are the rules on working overtime in Austria?

Taking sick leave

Employees in Austria are entitled to six weeks of paid sick leave (the number of weeks increases the longer the worker has been employed in the same company).

This means workers are more likely to take sick leave if they are unwell, rather than dragging themselves into the workplace and infecting their colleagues.

The downside though is that Austria has strict rules when it comes to taking sick leave with explicit orders to stay at home. Workers can even expect to be monitored by private detectives to make sure they really are resting at home, as reported by The Local.

For international residents in Austria, this can be hard to tolerate. But the upside is that you’re not expected to show your face in the office when sick, simply to comply with a culture of presenteeism.

And that’s a habit worth embracing.