As India pale ale has cemented itself as the most popular style of craft beer in the United States, bars and bottle shops have become awash in hops. Now, beer drinkers will have the same chance.
Thanks to Hop in the Spa, a beer-themed spa located in Sisters, Oregon, beer drinkers will be able to fully immerse themselves in hop-infused spa treatments. The available menu of services includes body wraps, facial scrubs and "microbrew soaks" at what Hop in the Spa boasts is the nation's first beer spa.
While the idea of soaking in beer has been around for centuries in places like the Czech Republic — where beer immersions have long existed — the idea of beer's rejuvenating physical properties have largely flown under the radar here in the United States. All that changed recently, after the announcement of Hop In The Spa's opening set off an Internet firestorm.
"It's been phenomenal. We're booking out three months in advance now," said Hop in the Spa Co-founder and "Chief Hoptimistic Officer" Mike Boyle. "We've already leased a second facility to expand. I've been around enough launches to know we've hit the mother lode here."
The group at Hop in the Spa has researched the world's best mineral baths and worked to duplicate that experience, Boyle said. He has also worked with a chemist to learn how to extract hop oils, which are added to the process along with other essential oils.
"We don't want people to think we just throw a bunch of hops in and charge people a bunch of money," he continued. "We have a whole process and (intellectual property) that we're very proud of."
The result is what Hop in the Spa calls the "microbrew soak," which Boyle touts as part of a proprietary process. It involves taking locally brewed Deschutes beer, rendering it into a solid, grinding it up and using it as part of a "bath brew" that customers soak in.
"What we do here is a pretty scientific approach to steeping the hops and putting it into 130-140 degree water and circulating it with minerals and essential oils," said Boyle.
While Hop in the Spa is basking in the newly discovered limelight, places like The Four Seasons in Vail, Colorado, and the JW Marriott in Grand Rapids, Michigan, are among a number of spas in the U.S. that have long-offered beer-themed spa treatments. The Four Seasons Vail offers "Brew and Renew" treatments like an Amber Ale Foot Soak and a massage inspired by a hot stone massage. In this case, hot stones are replaced with warm cans of beer from Vail's Crazy Mountain Brewery.
But while many spas may have offered a handful of beer-related treatments, Hop in the Spa is betting that by going all in on the beer theme — and highlighting the healing benefits of hops — the concept will have enough appeal to allow it to expand beyond its roots in craft-beer crazed Oregon.
"Our expansion plans are to license the IP to people who are interested in embracing our culture of the whole Hop in the Spa concept," Boyle said. "We think we're going to be a name anywhere that microbrews are popular."
Hop in the Spa has developed a relationship with Deschutes Brewery, the eighth largest craft brewer in the U.S., which is located about 20 miles away from the spa in Bend, Oregon. The brewery provides all the hops and the beer used at the spa.
Deschutes is expected to announce the location of a production facility on the East Coast in the near future, and Boyle said Hop in The Spa is planning another spa in that same area "right away." The spa also plans to expand into central Oregon and then Portland as soon as possible. Other plans in the works include building out a beer garden at its current location and a line of bath products for use at home.
While Boyle admitted to soaking up the beer-related buzz, he is amazed the concept of a fully themed "beer spa" hasn't already been done in the U.S.
"It blows my mind. I'm in the mecca of microbrew. (It's) a logical step forward and it's fun," he said. "It's come in, have a great soak, a massage and a beer. It's an epic experience."