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Every private therapy room at the Beer Spa has a soaking tub, infrared sauna, and rain shower. Photo courtesy of Bryant Vander Weerd and Karen Mills
Beer, Eat and Drink

What It’s Like To Relax In A Hops-and-Barley Bath at Whittier’s New Beer Spa

A dreamy beer-centric spa opened in Denver on February 26, offering a taproom, private beer therapy treatments, and zero-gravity massages.

After a long week of pandemic life or a powder day on the slopes, relaxation time is a must. So, why not switch up your normal wind-down routine by soaking in a tub infused with hops, barley, and herbs typically used to make beer? It may sound like just a dream, but now you can live that dream in the Whittier neighborhood on the corner of North Downing Street and 30th Avenue.

The Beer Spa by Snug is exactly what its name suggests: a wellness spa complete with a taproom; four private beer therapy rooms, including an ADA-compliant option; and a relaxation room with zero-gravity massage chairs. Each therapy room has a built-in infrared sauna, rain shower, and soaking tub.

While traveling the world together, co-founders Damien Zouaoui and Jessica French stumbled across a beer spa in the small town of Zakopane, Poland—where a dip in a bubbly beer bath inspired them to explore other spas and bathing cultures while on their journey. “We knew there were a lot of interesting concepts out there in the world that hadn’t been really brought to the United States yet,” French says. “[The beer spa] combined all of our favorite things—bringing people together in a unique way and using beer for wellness. It really was something that we could see catching on in the United States.”

After visiting 25 countries, the husband-and-wife duo returned to their home in New York City, but that metropolis didn’t feel like the right fit for their idea. Instead, they were drawn to Denver’s abundant beer scene and healthy lifestyle; the husband-and-wife duo moved to the Mile High City in 2019 to open a beer spa of their own.

Spending time at the Beer Spa is a supremely relaxing experience. As you enter, you’re greeted with the subtle scent of fresh wood and hops customized by French specifically for the spa. The taproom is decorated with dark blue and green velvet couches, brass details, and tons of greenery. Guests 21 and older have access to 10 taps pouring local beer, cider, and wine, six of which are taken over by a different brewery each month; Ratio Beerworks is on tap now. Patrons can also enjoy brews, cider, and wine from Holidaily Brewing Co., Stem Ciders, and Infinite Monkey Theorem and nonalcoholic beverages from Happy Leaf Kombucha, Hoplark HopTea, and Grüvi.

The self-serve beverage wall measures pours by the ounce to encourage guests to try a little bit of everything, Zouaoui says. If you have a therapy room reservation, a drink credit is included with your visit. All pours are tracked via a personal ID card, and additional payments are settled at the end of your stay.

After helping myself to a Silhouettes Raspberry Belgian Dark Ale from Ratio, French walked me back to my private room, which was all mine for one hour. As the room’s sliding barn door opened, I was hit with a sweet beer smell wafting off the barely and hops in the soaking tub—a scent reminiscent of what I’ve breathed in during a brewery tour. Instead of actual beer, though, the tub was filled with water infused with a seasonal herbal blend. “The beer bath is not filled with Budweiser,” French says. “It’s more like a giant beer tea. There’s no yeast and it’s not fermented, so it doesn’t smell like a dive bar.”

The Beer Spa works with a master herbalist to create a new blend each season using hops and barley from local breweries. A tea bag the size of my hand hung on the side of the tub, filled with the blend du jour. The 95- to 99-degree bath was filled with malted barley, fenugreek seeds, and Hallertauer Mittelfruh hops used to brew Ratio’s Darklands lager.

“There are lots of vitamins, nutrients, and antioxidants in the hops and barley,” French says. “The hops are a natural sedative, so the aromatherapy, while you’re in the beer bath, is really relaxing. And then it’s really good for your skin. It makes your skin soft and your hair shiny.”

I can vouch for French’s claims: My skin felt softer and more hydrated after the soak. I left the beer therapy room in a tranquil daze and made my way to the relaxation lounge for a zero-gravity chair massage. For the best experience, French recommends unwinding in the infrared sauna (a typical steam room without any beer elements, but with infrared lighting that heats your core instead of the air in the room) for 20 minutes before moving on to the beer bath for a 30-minute soak. Between each treatment, the tubs are drained, thoroughly disinfected, and refilled with clean water.

Following the beer therapy, guests can add on an optional 15- or 30-minute zero-gravity chair massage—and they should. The zero-gravity chair puts you in a neutral body posture and reclines so your spine is parallel to the floor with your legs elevated above your heart while rollers and air compression perform a customized head-to-toe massage.“Before it starts the massage, the chair detects your acupressure points and adjusts itself to your body. No two massages are the same,” French says.

The beer therapy rooms can be booked online for $159 for one person or $219 for the two-person date night package, which includes a $30 beverage credit or bottle of Crémant D’Alsace. Add a chair massage to your booking for $20–$30 (30 minutes). Those wanting only a chair massage can stop by anytime. The Beer Spa also recently launched cosmetic mini-bars in the therapy rooms, with an assortment of add-on experiences like beer hair masks, CBD face masks, and hops-infused beard oil.

The Beer Spa by Snug is open Monday through Sunday, 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.

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