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LIVING IN AUSTRIA

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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ENERGY

From lighting to ice skating: How Vienna plans to save energy

Winter is approaching and with it a higher use of energy. Here’s what the City of Vienna is doing to save gas and electricity this winter.

From lighting to ice skating: How Vienna plans to save energy

As the war in Ukraine continues and energy prices skyrocket, Austria could be in for a tough winter.

To offset some of the impacts, the City of Vienna is now preparing for the cold season and rolling out a series of energy saving measures.

The aim is to reduce energy consumption in the Austrian capital by 15 percent by the end of March 2023, which is in line with the target set by the European Commission earlier this year.

FOR MEMBERS: UPDATED: How reliant is Austria on Russia for energy?

Mayor Michael Ludwig said: “Cooperation in Vienna is the most important basis for getting through difficult times well and safely.

“We proved that during the pandemic and we will prove that now. Our motto is: stick together so that everyone stays warm.”

Here are the main elements of the plan.

Ice skating

The Wiener Eistraum ice skating rink on Rathausplatz is scheduled to run from January to March 2023. But, according to the Wiener Zeitung, there is uncertainty over whether it can take place at all this winter.

The structure on Vienna’s town hall square is a popular winter attraction in the city. It attracts both locals and tourists with pretty lighting and pre-heated ice skates for hire. But it also requires a lot of energy to operate.

As a result, there is a possibility that the Wiener Eistraum could be cancelled or scaled back, although a final decision hasn’t been made yet.

READ ALSO: Reader question: I’ve received my Austrian Klimabonus as a voucher, now what?

Christmas markets

The Wiener Zeitung reports that Vienna’s Christmas market in front of the Rathausplatz is currently not at risk of being cancelled – at least not under the current plans.

The Rathausplatz is the city’s biggest Christmas market and is scheduled to open on November 19th, which is one week later than in 2021.

Lighting

The City of Vienna said the conversion to LED street lighting is continuing across the capital. So far, around half of the city’s 153,000 street lamps have been replaced with LED bulbs. 

The use of street lighting in Vienna has also changed. From 10pm, lighting in low-traffic areas is reduced to 75 percent, and then to 50 percent after midnight.

The LED street lighting project is expected to reduce energy consumption by 60 percent and is part of the city’s long-term energy saving plans.

Administrative buildings, campuses and pools

Energy saving measures are also being rolled out across administrative buildings, at public pools and educational buildings in Vienna.

The Town Hall claims that around 193,000 MWh (or €14.7 million) has already been saved at 42 government buildings, including at kindergartens and schools.

Further energy saving projects are planned for the Jörgerbad, Floridsdorferbad and Kongressbad public pools.

Additionally, the Liselotte-Hansen-Schmidt campuses in Donaustadt, Liesing and Penzing are heated and cooled with geothermal energy. They are also fitted with large photovoltaic systems.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: How to keep energy bills down in Austria

Investment in the energy network

Between 2022 and 2026, Wiener Stadtwerke Group will invest around €6.2 billion to improve Vienna’s energy infrastructure, with €5.7 billion earmarked for “climate-friendly investments”. 

Wien Energie is investing €1.2 billion into the conversion of the energy system by 2026 and around €400 million is reserved for the expansion of renewable electricity production.

Peter Hanke, City Councillor for Economic Affairs, said: “In addition to the city’s goal of being climate-neutral by 2040, the security of supply for the Viennese is particularly important to me. 

“By 2030, we will invest around €3 billion in the network security of the federal capital Vienna via Wiener Netze. 

“Such a stable power grid makes the integration of renewable energies possible because 90 percent of the energy transition takes place in the distribution grid.” 

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