Alpine cheese made in Obernberg
The 25-year-old junior manager of Almi`s Berghotel in Obernberg, Thomas Almberger, has been running the Steiner Alm above Lake Obernberg in the summer months for a few years now where he produces alpine cheese.
For those who still haven’t heard of it: the very cosy Steiner Alm is situated at an altitude of 1,737 m above Lake Obernberg, surrounded by beautiful Alpine meadows and with dreamlike views of the Tribulaun massif. I ask Thomas the question, how come such a young person voluntarily puts his heart into managing an Alpine farm? “I wanted to make something out of our milk myself,” Thomas explains, “and in the process I wanted to preserve the value-added cycle and produce a hearty piece of nature. My grandfather previously operated the cheese dairy on the highland pasture and I have been involved since 2017. A closed-loop economy has developed over the last few years. The ten pigs on my highland pasture are fed with the waste from dairy cheese production and are given free rein to roam. They are then slaughtered in St. Jodok during autumn and finish up on the menu in our hotel.”
How does a working day look like for you?
“I start milking the cows at around 6 in the morning and then let them out to graze. After that, I start with the cheese production, clean the barn and pop in to check on the 60 young animals. From midday onwards, I attend to the day guests who stop by on their walks.” In addition to cheese dumplings and Kaiserschmarrn (cut-up and sugared pancakes), the menu also includes a Tyrolean-style snack board or dumpling soup. The kind soul of the farm is Berto, as Thomas explains to me. Now 84 years old, Berto has already enjoyed 20 summers in the Alpine pastures, seven of them on the Steiner Alm, where he looks after the cows.
What’s your biggest dream?
“I would like to one day be able to process the entire 400 litres of milk that our cows yield every day myself.” Thomas has a very special sparkle in his eyes as he says this. This much passion is really contagious. I really can’t wait to be there for the pastoral transhumance in mid-June. I’m only interested now to find out if there’s anything that annoys him at the dairy farm. The answer is short and sweet: “Yes, cleaning all the molds and strainers! The rest is right up my street!”
You can of course take a piece of the Steiner Alm home with you: our recommendation is to try the homemade mountain cheese or a piece of Alpine cheese. All products, including the Alpine butter or the cow’s milk feta preserved in many herbs, can be purchased at the Alm or at Almi`s Berghotel.
Tip: If you are hiking to Lake Obernberg, you should definitely continue along trail no. 93/93B for 30 minutes and then plan a stop at Thomas’ place. If you are lucky, you might be able to peek over his shoulder at his cheese production activities through a large window in the early morning. The Steiner Alm is open from mid-June to mid-September.