THEY love beer so much in the Czech Republic that they not only drink more of it than any other nation in the world, they also bathe in the stuff.
Which is why, on a sunny Sunday afternoon, I’m sat naked in a larch tub wallowing up to my neck in lager.
It’s actually watered-down and heated to 35C with various herbs and enzymes that are supposed to do wonders for skin, hair and muscles.
But on a little table beside me at the Purkmistr Beer Spa, on the outskirts of the city of Pilsen, there is also a pint glass of cold, foaming lager.
And even better, there is a tap next to it so I can keep pouring more.
To be honest, I’ve barely been without a drink since arriving in this landlocked country. For tourist chiefs in South Bohemia have organised six different Beer Routes, where you can visit 38 breweries.
But first you have to understand that, unlike most British beers, Czech ones should be poured with a big “two fingers” head of creamy foam on top.
There is a complicated scientific reason for this involving carbon dioxide and something called lipid transfer protein 1. But let’s just say it makes the beer taste better.
The breweries range from giants such as Budêjovickÿ Budvar — embroiled in a 77-year worldwide battle with American “upstart” Budweiser over who owns the trademark name — to the tiny prize-winning Krajinská 27 microbrewery nearby, where they first made beer in 1482.
But while Budvar exports 70 per cent of its production to 80 countries, down the road at the Brewery Hluboka, where they have been making beer since the 15th century, owner Michael Machákovi sells 70 per cent of his four unfiltered, unpasteurised lagers in the adjoining restaurant.
I tried them all over a delicious lunch of meat and dumplings before slowly strolling up the hill to Castle Hlunoká, a fairytale neo-Gothic building dating back to the 13th century.
Later it was on to the ultra-modern Glokner Brewery, opened in 2013, with seven beers piped directly into the adjoining pub and restaurant where again you dine in gut-busting style.
In the pretty little town of Trebon is the Bohemia Regent, founded in 1379, whose excellent lagers are now exported to Britain.
But one of the most interesting places to drink is the University of South Bohemia in Ceské Budejovice, where they not only teach brewing but also brew four barrels a week for students and visitors to their beer museum.
Tutor Dr Monika Brezinová explained how there were 1,570 breweries in the country at the start of the 20th century. Two world wars and the Soviet occupation saw that slashed to just over 300.
But a craft beer boom over the last decade has reversed the trend so there are now 480, 434 of them micro-breweries. They don’t just produce traditional lager, either.
The American trend for IPAs has led to experiments with toast beer, onion beer and even a bitter-sweet marijuana beer, although Dr Brezinová quickly points out, it doesn’t use the hallucinogenic part of the plant.
One brew, Flamingo, contains astaxanthin, a powerful anti-oxidant which the makers boast has anti-ageing and anti-inflammatory effects, and all sorts of other health benefits. They even claim it is kind to your liver.
But no beer trip to the Czech Republic is complete without visiting Pilsen, a fascinating city which in 1842 lent its name to a new type of pale lager with the opening of the famous Pilsner Urquell brewery.
The country’s largest, it now produces three million litres every day. Just one of the 150 huge tanks outside contains so much beer you would need to sup ten pints a day for 164 years to empty it.
We were lucky enough to be in Pilsen during the annual Sun In A Glass beer festival, with 71 local microbreweries — and, oddly, a Guinness stall — doing a roaring trade, while a half-decent rock band played in the sunshine.
Buy a little quarter-pint glass for a quid, and you can sample most of the beers for about 30p each. Now that’s certainly worth Czeching out!