Dustin Hall / The Brewtography Project

I’m not comfortable in spas. Granted, I’m not entirely comfortable anywhere but on my couch watching stuff on my DVR -- but after reading articles about how beer is beneficial for your hair and your skin, I had to put beer’s power to the test. My skin is uber-sensitive and chronically dry, and my hair is usually a mess. What if beer was the answer to all of my beauty problems? (Hey, men have to take pride, too, okay?)

Enter The Ritz-Carlton luxury spa in Denver, Colorado. Turns out that they have a spa treatment designed to deliver you a dose of beer via every potential channel: through your skin, through your scalp, and (my favorite) through your mouth. The Microbrew Ex’Beerience is 75 minutes (and $215 worth) of boozy spa heaven. But would it work? Could beer really moisturize my skin and make my hair look less like garbage? There was only one way to find out.
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Pre-gaming for my spa treatment

I roll up to the front of the Ritz in my beige, 2006, four-door sedan. The valet was impressed...that the car was still running. When I tell him I’m going to the spa, his face shows genuine surprise. I walk through the front doors triumphantly.

I enter the locker rooms and put on the softest robe I’ve ever had the pleasure of wearing. I consider taking it with me to wear at home like a shorter, scrawnier Tony Soprano. The waiting room offers tiny towels and even tinier bottles of water. I’m also given a Great Divide Colette to drink while I wait. Some beers taste better on a hot summer day, and this refreshing farmhouse-style ale is certainly one of them. I’m loving this spa treatment so far.
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Meeting the beer-wielding spa professional

A woman strolls into the waiting room and introduces herself as the person hired to rub me for the next 75 minutes. That doesn’t sound right. Allow me to rephrase: Megan, a professional masseuse at the Ritz spa for over six years, strolls into the waiting room and introduces herself as the person hired to massage me with Great Divide beer. Not only do I get to drink their brews before and after the treatment, but their beers will be rubbed into my scalp! And their malt and hops will be responsible for exfoliating my skin.

I talk to Megan about who normally signs up for this treatment. “Beer lovers!” she says. “Sometimes we get couples in here. Typically, women buy it for their husbands as an intro to the spa. ‘There’s beer and you’ll like it!’” I concur that this is an excellent strategy.

What happens in a beer spa treatment

I walk into a tiled room, disrobe, and lay on the table under The World’s Most Unflattering Brown Towel. There are six shower heads hanging over the table, which I’m told will eventually pour down on me. This sounds like the only way I want to take showers from now on. But first, the scrubbing....

credits:"Dustin Hall / The Brewtography Project"

The hop and malt scrub
I’m unsure how my skin is still attached to my body after this treatment. I don’t feel a “malt exfoliant” on my body (like I was promised), but I do feel like Megan went to Ace Hardware on her lunch break and bought some sandpaper to torture me with. Okay, it’s not all that painful -- but it is unpleasant. She tells me that women love this part of the treatment; men aren’t huge fans. But the beer cred here is undeniable: my skin’s being exfoliated by a mix of malt, hops, oil, and sugar. Let’s see you buy that exfoliant at CVS!

The Vichy shower
I could lay here for hours as six shower heads work their refreshing magic. Plus, the shower washes off all those malts and hops from the scrubbing. When I grow up, I want a Vichy shower in my house. In the meantime, I have to settle for videos of Vichy showers on YouTube.

Body painting
Paintbrush in hand, Megan slathers me with Yeti Imperial Stout. I ask if this is a special paintbrush, imagining it was crafted specially for the Ritz-Carlton with bristles made from fine Arabian horsehair. “Nope, just a paintbrush,” she says. Thanks, Megan. Anyway, it felt amazing. And the beer has actual health benefits! Megan tells me that it has A and B vitamins! Even better, the room smells like chocolate and malt. I want a Yeti.

The beer scalp treatment
“While you’re absorbing the Yeti stout into your skin, you get a scalp massage,” she tells me. Normally, I’d be quick to wipe beer off my skin. Here, the Yeti feels and smells great, and I’m happy to have it work its magic on my skin. “We’re putting beer in your hair because it’s a clarifier,” she says. I act like I know what that means. “Your hair will look more shiny,” she adds. Now she’s speaking my language.

Moisturizers and beer don’t go together
The treatment ends with Megan moisturizing my poor, sensitive skin with plain ol’ moisturizer. With beer in my hair and Yeti seeping into my skin, I’m fine with leaving beer out of this part of the treatment.

Does it work?

I walk out of the treatment room feeling relaxed. It also helps that I’ve been handed a Yeti to drink. Good thing, too: considering that I now smell like a Yeti (the beer, not the mythical beast), I’m really craving one. I look in the mirror, and my hair does look shinier. It looks fuller, too.

credits:"Dustin Hall / The Brewtography Project"


Later that night, while lying in bed, my hand brushed up against my leg. It honestly took me a second to realize that it was my own (albeit, still hairy). Then I touched my arm. Wow. All of that exfoliating and body painting with beer actually had an effect! For at least one night, my skin wasn’t lizard-like. And my hair looked presentable! “Maybe I’d to start using beer in my beauty regimen the other 364 days a year,” I thought.

But who am I kidding? I don’t have a regimen. Or a comb. I’m a beer writer who works from home, people. But maybe the next time a drop of Yeti accidentally spills on my arm, I won’t towel it off -- I’ll grab a paintbrush, instead.

credits:"Dustin Hall / The Brewtography Project"