The Norwegian With The Magical Beer Tap?

Imagine you’re in your apartment on a Saturday night with not a lot to do. That sounds like a good start to a relaxing evening: maybe you boot up Netflix and pour yourself a cold beer, and take some time for yourself.

And then you realize: no one washed the dishes. Sure, you could just leave them there, but sooner or later, your sink is going to overflow with a mess — and you don’t have much to do anyway. Sure, it’s not a fun activity — even people who really don’t mind doing the dishes (like, say, me) don’t actually like it. But you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do. So you decide that you need to do the dishes first — the beer can wait.

Or you can get lucky, just like Haldis Gundersen did in 2006.

Gundersen, then 50 years old, lived in the small village of Kristiandsund on the western coast of Norway (here’s a map). One Saturday night that winter, as she told the Associated Press (via CBS News), she “had settled down for a cozy Saturday evening, had a nice dinner, and I was just going to clean up a little.” No big deal — certainly not something the AP would normally care about.

But she wasn’t able to wash her dishes, because that required water. And when she turned on her tap, no water came out. Instead, beer started flowing from her faucet. For free! It was a miracle — or, at least, a tease.

Beer isn’t cheap in Norway; as NBC News reported at the time, “beer in Norway is among the most expensive in the world with a 0.7 pint costing about $7.48 in a bar” (or about $11.42 in today’s dollars). So when Gundersen first realized that her sink was somehow a portal to a seemingly unending supply of booze, she “thought [she] was in heaven,” as she told the press. 

Sadly, that wasn’t the case. She was, rather, the beneficiary of what the Associated Press called “an improbable feat of clumsy plumbing.” Gundersen lived a few flights above a local bar, and, per the AP, someone “had accidentally hooked the beer hoses to the water pipes for Gundersen’s apartment.” The beer was coming out of every tap in her house — the kitchen sink but also the shower and yes, into the toilets (although I doubt she drank from there) — but not for very long. Because while the beer was flowing freely into her mugs, the patrons are the bar below were not so lucky; per the Mail & Guardian, “water, not beer, flowed out of its beer taps.” The bar manager called a local distributor who quickly guided them on a repair before the evening was over.

Gundersen probably didn’t mind the quick reversal, though, as the mixup wasn’t quite as heavenly as Gunderson first thought. After trying the beer, she came away disappointed — the beer was flat and didn’t taste quite right. In fact, next time — if there is a next time — Gunderson wouldn’t even bother with the free beer. She told the press that “if it happens again, I’m going to order Baileys.”

Bonus fact: Gundersen had the opportunity to bathe in beer, had she so desired. And if that’s your thing, you can too! You’ll need to go to Starkenberger’s Castle, a brewery in Austria. (Here’s a map.) As Thrillist reports, “residing in the old fermentation brewery, there are seven total pools in a Turkish-bath-like room, each of which are heated and contain 12,000L of water enriched with 300L Biergeläger (remote yeast).” You can even order a cold beer to drink while relaxing in the hot beer, and if you’re looking to drink while swimming, that’s probably your best bet. As Atlas Obscura warns, “drinking from the pool is ill-advised.”

From the Archives: The Underground River of Beer: Thankfully, this hasn’t had a plumbing problem (yet?).