From the healing mud baths of Calistoga to the vinotherapy baths of Sonoma, there’s no shortage of wine-related spa treatments in the U.S. But while the emphasis has largely been on locally harvested wine-and-honey wraps, grape-seed scrubs and other viniculture byproducts, now beer enthusiasts have hopped into the game. Thanks to Hop in the Spa, America’s first full-service beer spa located (where else?) in Oregon, beer lovers no longer have to travel to the basement of a fraternity house to enjoy the taste and olfactory pleasures of their favorite Deschutes Brewery IPA. Portlandia couldn’t script it any better.
Believe it or not, beer spas are not actually a new concept. According to co-owners Sally Champa, a massage therapist and naturopath, and her partner marketer Mike Boyle—she helped heal him after a near-fatal car accident—the therapeutic act of soaking in beer dates back to the Middle Ages. Spas offering hop-centric bath and massage treatments are found throughout Europe. Modern-day beer spas in Scandinavia, Prague, Germany and this one in Austria actually offer baths filled purely with beer.
Nonetheless, the owners of Hop in the Spa, located in the tiny town of Sisters, Oregon, a short drive from the beer-mecca of Bend, are optimistic that they are "the first and only spa in the U.S. brewing beer and other natural ingredients into an experience for clients.”
The idea isn’t just to get comfortably numb on your way to getting wasted on your favorite Deschutes IPA (the spa has an exclusive relationship with the seventh-largest craft brewer, which provides the hoppy goods). “This isn’t a place to just get in the hot tub and get drunk,” points out Boyle, adding that guests are only permitted a maximum of 12 ounces of alcohol during their stay. And while hopheads will die happy just inhaling the aromas of the favorite porter, lupulin (the active ingredient in hops) has proven sedative properties; the hops and other minerals are also believed to improve skin tone, reduce anxiety, treat insomnia and detoxify the body.
The entire experience at Hop in the Spa is decidedly grown-up: You knock back a pint of your favorite brew (or glass of Oregon wine) along with a plate of pretzels, sausage and cheese (locally sourced, natch) in a private room, before enjoying a clothing-optional “microbrew soak” (with brew in tow), followed by a 45 minute deep-tissue, Swedish or Ayurvedic massage. Another treatment, the “ale foot soak,” is popular with the après-ski crowd who come from the two nearby ski resorts. The duo is also offering expanded concierge packages such as beer, dinner and a movie, followed by an overnight stay in a local Sisters hotel.
The owners plan to open a second location in Sisters within the month. But things will really come to a frothy head this summer, when the duo will open a much larger Hop in the Spa branch in Bend. And later this year, they’ll be opening another branch in conjunction with Deschutes’ forthcoming facility in the Southeast.
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