Unfortunately, despite its stunning and remote location and the slow pace of life, Gimmelwald remains an expensive destination. Even with a good exchange rate, Gimmelwald is no exception to Switzerland's notoriously high prices. A cheap lunch will set you back at least $20, and you can expect to pay $4-5 for a single Coke or bottle of water.
Hydration is essential when hiking all day, but who can afford to quench their thirst at these prices? I can't. Thankfully there is a solution. For reasons unknown to me, beer is one of the few commodities to have escaped the inflated prices. At the nearest grocery, just a cable ride or a 45 minute hike up the mountain, it's less than a dollar for an imperial pint of local lager. And even on tap, an overflowing Jungfrau-sized mug is a very reasonable $5. Let's take a look at some of the delightful beers I sampled during our stay in Gimmewald:
Oettinger Original Export Lager: Oettinger is Germany's best selling beer brand, producing more than 20 different brews. They market themselves as "Real beer, without the conceit," and achieve low prices through automated production and by eliminating the middle-man in their delivery process. This was a good solid beer after a seven hour hike. Not overly complex, it smells and tastes like any good lager, with mild hints of sweet hay.
Anker Bier Hell: Despite what looks like an ominous word in the title, "hell" simply means "bright," or in this case, "blonde." Anker is a Swiss beer, and it is difficult to find English language information on the brewery, so if you know anything about it, please leave a note or send an email. Anker blonde is a solid wheat beer, with a mild sweetness. Also less than a dollar a can, it's perfect after a long day of hiking.
Rugenbrau Brewery: Rugenbrau is the beer that the residents of Gimmelwald get most excited about. Order one at a restaurant or pick it up at the store and you're sure to have a local proudly announce, "this beer is brewed here." Rugenbrau is a family owned brewery and distillery is located in Interlaken, the picturesque town between the two lakes Thun and Brienz, not far from Gimmelwald. Founded in the 1800s, the brewery makes seven beers, although I only had the chance to sample two.
Lager Hell: This is Rugenbrau's most popular beer. I sipped this delightful blonde sitting on the river that connects the two lakes of Interlaken. Eminently drinkable, I can't find my tasting notes for this beer. It was ice cold, smooth and clean... and that's enough.
Rugenbrau Spezial Dunkel (special dark): My new favorite dark beer, Spezial Dunkel smells of oatmeal and meaty grains, and has a bold malty taste. Sitting outside the historic Mountain Hostel, watching the sun set on the clouded peaks of the Eiger and Jungfrau, holding a generous mug of this thick, dark substance, the saying is true: "If heaven isn't what it's cracked up to be, send me back to Gimmelwald."