Raw-milk alpine cheese, Tilsiter cheese, yogurt, butter, cured bacon… if you want to sample finest, handcrafted regional specialties, put Burgeralm Alpine Pasture Hut in Rettenschöss on your itinerary. Moreover, you can soak in the majesty of the mountains at this family-friendly place which is easily accessible and makes for a great day out.
“Our beginnings were humble and small, like the cheese production of Heidi’s grandfather in the Swiss Alps,” Martha Fahringer tells us with a smile. Operated together with her husband Toni since 1982, Burgeralm in the lowest corner of Tirol’s Unterland Region produces an award-winning selection of handcrafted raw mountain cheeses. From May through September, 38 happy cows eating native Alpine grasses and with freedom to roam produce rich, creamy, high-quality milk – 45,000 liters of which are made into amazing cheese and dairy produce at the state-of-the-art Alpine cheese plant each summer.
The specialty of Burgeralm is their mouth-watering cheese platter – visually appealing and diverse in flavour with treats like raw-milk alpine cheese, Tilsiter or herb cheese. Their soft cheese “Tiroler Adler Gold”, which was named after Tirol’s famous long-distance mountaineering trail, the “Eagle Walk”, is to die for!
Using the same milk, Burgeralm also makes delicate and approachable sour milk, yogurt and whey, while their pigs provide meat for homemade bacon and cured sausages. Plus, they churn the richest and freshest cream from their pastured cows into butter, roll it into edelweiss-adorned wooden moulds and then hand wrap the creamy bricks and other handcrafted delicacies for sale at the Alpine Pasture Shop on premises.
Cheesemaking is a Labour of Love & Passion
“Until 1998 we had no electricity up here and everything was quite simple and rustic. We soon recognized that making our own cheese and selling it to visitors was much in demand. That’s why we decided to attend a special school to become certified cheesemakers,” recalls Martha. Nowadays, Burgeralm boasts a state-of-the-art Alpine cheese plant.
Martha and Toni make all Burgeralm cheeses in small batches, tapping into old-school techniques and a few secrets they’ll never tell (but don’t worry, they’ll give you a taste). “Milk is the basis of all our products. To make our cheeses, we start with milking our cows and end with serving and selling it to our guests. It’s great to get instant feedback from our visitors,” says the farmer’s wife. The remainder of their specialties is packaged for sale at the Farmers’ Market in Innsbruck.
“13 liters of raw milk are needed to make 1 kilogram of mountain cheese. This is quite surprising for many visitors.”
A Family-Friendly Experience
No matter how you slice it, making cheese is quite inefficient fare: 13 liters of raw milk are needed to make one 1 kilogram of mountain cheese. “This is quite surprising for many visitors,” explains Martha. She also offers a fun, educational, hands-on array of classes for guests and students looking to dive deeper into the art of cheesemaking and life on an Alpine pasture farm. Little ones can romp about the ample playground and the roaming kittens and rabbits love to get attention and pose for pictures.
Burgeralm can be reached within a two hour walk or by car. The barrier gate that closes the forest road can be opened by entering six 1-Euro coins, making the Burgeralm Experience accessible to wheelchair users, elderly people and families with babies.
A Perfect Stop to Recharge Your Batteries
At 1,326 meters above sea level, you’ll be breathing the fresh mountain air while gazing out at lofty summits and jagged peaks: Burgeralm has stunning views of the rugged Wilder Kaiser Mountain Range, jutting Kitzbühel Horn Peak, glacier-capped Hohe Tauern Range and Großglockner, Austria’s tallest mountain. It’s a wonderful ride through gorgeous scenery before a stop to recharge your batteries at Burgeralm—literally, if you’re riding an e-bike. Sample any of the handcrafted raw cheeses or other delicacies they make and plug in while you’re there. Batteries are charged for free, of course, as Martha and Toni are passionate e-bike riders themselves—whenever time allows.
Photo Credits: Frank Bauer