Never has there been more talk about the health benefits of beer. They key, according to scientists, are the flowers in the hops plants. Hops are used in beer recipes to balance flavor by adding bitter notes to the sweet, malty flavor of the beer, and now it looks as if they pack a nutritional punch, to boot.
But the most recent trend in relaxation is to actually soak in your beer. A few months ago, Hop In the Spa, America’s first beer spa, opened in Sisters, Oregon. Customers don’t just drink beer; they sit in carefully-crafted baths designed to encourage feelings of total relaxation.
The co-founder, Mike Boyle, tells Vice Magazine that the idea started brewing (no pun intended) after speaking with an Ayurvedic-trained massage therapist, who told him about the medicinal powers of hops. Around the same time, a friend had brought back a brochure from a beer spa in Prague. Both of these influences encouraged to Boyle develop his own beer bath using beer, hops, essential oils, and minerals. He pitched the idea to Deschutes, a popular Oregon brewery, and they ran with it.
New School Beer gives an in-depth report on the treatment:
Customers start with a pint in the lounge area to unwind and get relaxation started before they soak their body in a brew of hops, which are great for dry skin complications; malt, which is a great exfoliator and has vitamin C; and water (sound familiar?), with an additional proprietary mix of other herbs for stress, anxiety, insomnia, sore muscles, and inflammation.
The treatment doesn’t stop there. After the soak, customers receive massages with hop-infused essential oils from Champa, an Ayurvedic masseuse. Following the massage is more relaxation, typically with another beer. Don’t expect any drunkenness, though; customers are only allowed 12 ounces of alcohol throughout the entire process.
So far participants report smoother skin and feelings of blissful relaxation, but Boyle says that he and Champa are holding off from making official claims until more medical research is conducted.
But whether you’re drinking beer or bathing in it, there may be some health benefits to reap. Researchers from the University of Idaho recently presented findings that suggest that a key ingredient in beer can also be used to fight against cancer and inflammatory diseases. Hops contain acids called humulones and lupulones, which possess the ability to stop bacterial growth and disease.
Other studies have illustrated that beer can help decrease the chance of kidney stones, reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes, and decrease the chance of developing Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. And the list goes on! According to Telegraph.co.uk, beer has also illustrated potential to prevent cataracts and cure insomnia.
Even if you’re not a beer drinker, you might enjoy a visit to “Hop in the Spa.” In addition to the treatment, customers are served tapas-style appetizers, including various meets, cheeses, and fruits. Most of the food is sourced from local Oregon food artisans and farms. As word spreads, it’s getting harder to get an appointment, and so Boyle is looking to expand.
As for future projects, Boyle tells Vice that he’s experimenting with other ways of integrating hops into a person’s everyday routine. “Hop in the Cup” is a new line of coffee, where the addition of hops helps remove some of the jittery feelings associated with caffeine. “Hop in the Bath” will consists of a series of bath products, so that people can enjoy the benefits of hops from their own homes.
For more information on Boyle and Champa’s spa, visit their website.
Amanda Kohr is a 25-year-old writer and photographer with a penchant for yoga, food, and travel. She prefers to bathe in the moonlight rather than the sun, and enjoys living in a state of the three C’s: cozy, creative, and curious. When she’s not writing, you can find her driving her VW Bug, looking for the next roadside attraction or family diner. She also roams the internet at amandakohr.com and through Instagram.