For once I went to Denver and came home smelling like a brewery on purpose. That sentence sprang fully-formed in my mind when I got an email inviting me to check out The Beer Spa in Denver’s Five Points neighborhood. A spa soak in a tub full of beer was all I could imagine.
Like many seasoned drinkers, I’ve had my fair share of spills in crowded bars. As a bartender, I’ve had tap lines spray me and kegs foam over. One fateful mash day at the distillery, I was coated in an oatmeal-like rye mash so sticky I had to get in the shower with my clothes on to avoid accidentally waxing my entire body. Though I look back at these memories with a sort of wry amusement, I never thought about voluntarily soaking myself in the stuff that beer is made from.
I love a nice hot soak, or a hot tub with some cocktails or a few beers (editor’s note: mind your alcohol consumption in hot tubs, folks). While I was admittedly skeptical about soaking in beer, it was too interesting and different to pass over. I thought I knew what to expect walking through the doors that day, but I walked back out genuinely impressed.
Let’s take a step back to look at how a beer-focused day spa landed in Five Points.
Founded by entrepreneurial couple Jessica French and Damien Zouaoui, The Beer Spa is a culmination of more than a year of global travel as the married couple explored Europe and Asia. The goal, French says, was to look at unique business concepts that hadn’t made their way to the U.S. yet.
“We’re both very entrepreneurial, so we had this drive to work for ourselves,” French says. “It became pretty apparent (to us) that we wanted to do something different, not just open a restaurant or coffee shop.”
While traveling, it also became apparent that they were still very interested in businesses involving hospitality and wellness, Zouaoui says. The true moment of inspiration came from a rainy afternoon in a Polish mountain town, where a beer spa offered shelter from precipitous weather. Sipping pints while soaking in a warm tub, the smell of beer all around them, led the pair to a conversation about bathing traditions and bringing them back to the U.S.
Zouaoui and French found a renewed focus for their travels—studying spa, wellness concepts and bathing culture to bring the best ideas back home with them. They wanted to combine the joy they found in the Polish beer spa with wellness practices found in other cultures, like saunas and Japanese onsen.
“The wellness industry in the U.S. is very different than in other countries,” Zouaoui says. “I think with the pandemic, people realized that need for balance between work and life, and how important it is to take care
All that was left was finding the first location for their concept. With beer in mind, French and Zouaoui chose Denver and made it home. Construction began on a building in Denver at 30th Avenue and Downing Street and The Beer Spa was officially born.
When I spoke with French and Zuoaoui ahead of my appointment, they assured me I wouldn’t actually be soaking in beer. The only actual beer at The Beer Spa is for consumption. Instead, French compares it to herbal baths, hydrotherapy and aromatherapy, citing the beneficial nutrients found in barley and hops. It’s essentially a giant tea bag added to the soaking tub, making it more like wort—the pre-fermentation proto-beer.
On the day, I brought one of my good friends with me for company and the two of us enthusiastically committed to our beer-centered wellness routine. The staff were warm and gracious, helping us with a flight of tasters from the self-serve tap wall. The Beer Spa partners with a new Colorado brewery each month, featuring their beers in the tasting room and utilizing their varieties of hops and barley in the spa itself.
Beers in hand (in insulated tumblers to prevent broken glass in the tub), we were shown to our soaking room and given a brief tutorial. Each room has a sliding door for privacy and guests can enjoy the relaxation either naked or in a bathing suit at their own comfort level. As close as we are, my buddy and I opted for swim trunks.
Each room has a two-person infrared sauna—all the heat with none of the steam—and a rain shower to sweat out any toxins before getting in your beer soak. The soaking tub holds two, but it is certainly an intimate experience. Neither my friend or I are particularly small humans but were both plenty comfortable for the hour we were there.
It was a genuinely lovely experience, dear readers. The temperature in the tub was just warmer than the human body, so it lacked the sensation of being slowly cooked alive that I associate with hot tubs and hot springs. I confess I didn’t actually smell like wort, but the aroma was very pleasant. The featured brewery was Cerveceria Colorado, so I enjoyed a pint of their Mexican lager while I relaxed.
More than just for visitors or special occasions, I can see myself heading back to The Beer Spa. The tension drained from me and my muscles felt eased, at least until I had to get back on I-25 North.
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