Most spas offer sanctuary, retreat from a stressful world and detoxification from the unhealthy things we ingest too often. For many that means alcohol, and a visit that’s sans booze—but it doesn’t have to be. Suddenly, it seems, a number of properties are offering programs built around lively libations—not in lieu from them.
The Lodge at Woodloch, an award-winning, all inclusive, adult-only spa set on 150 acres of woodland in Hawley, Pennsylvania, has a highly curated wine list and sommelier on property, offering more than 270 bottles. Come next week, September 11th-13th, the Lodge will partner with Dogfish Head Craft Ales to present guests with a weekend devoted to unusual beers and the brewing process.
“Some destination spas are about limiting and being a little too regimented,” says Brooke Jennings, the spa’s marketing and program director. “We are about choices, awakenings, and having our guests experience something they’ve not experienced before.”
In 1995, Dogfish opened as the smallest commercial brewery in America. Known for using seasonal, organic and unique ingredients, the now 20-year-old company also sees brewing as an art. “We were the first American craft brewery to focus on making creative recipes using culinary ingredients from around the world, instead of adhering to militaristic beer style guidelines,” explains Dogfish Head owner, Sam Calagione.
“‘Off-centered ales for off-centered people’ is what we call it. We make beers like our Namaste, with lemongrass and orange flesh, and Midas Touch, with saffron and white Muscat grapes.” Their goal? To bring ales with flavor, complexity, diversity, food-compatibility, and age-ability to the masses.
As with many great ideas, an unusual joint venture commenced. With the spa industry courting a largely female-dominated audience, and beer drinkers being mostly male, there was great reason to pull the two groups together to show there could be common ground. “In early 2011, we had some initial discussions about partnering with a local craft ales brewery to create beer-infused spa treatments,” Jennings says. What resulted was The Art of Ale, a three-day weekend festival, led by Mark Safarik, assistant brewmaster of Dogfish Head, that includes beer samplings, special spa treatments, and other events.
Now in its fourth year, Safarik will lead tastings, going into the complexities, notes and unusual ingredients of the ales that the small company creates. The Lodge Walk & Beer Talk takes guests on a tour of the property’s diverse greenery and edible herbs, exploring a variety of local bitters grown there. Along the path, guests will also sample from Calagione’s private ale collection.
“The really wonderful part is having guests learn about the unique complexities of aged beer verus beer right off of the bottling line,” Jennings adds. “Sam gave us a selection of a few of his favorite beers—some no longer being bottled—to age on our nature trails for this particular weekend.”
A garden dinner and discussion will feature Dogfish beer pairings to those thirsty for a greater brewing education. The weekend ends with a cooking demonstration with the Lodge’s chefs using beer-based recipes. It’s an event designed for everyone from beer hobbyists to connoisseurs.
Since the Lodge started offering its beer-inspired spa treatments, they’ve seen an increase of men using the spa, trying out more adventurous treatments beyond a typical massage. “Beer was first discovered to be a beverage of choice in ancient Egypt, where women also used it in their beauty routines,” Jennings explains.
“The main ingredients in beer that gives it healing properties are Brewers Yeast, B Vitamins and Saccharides, or sugars. These ingredients help dissolve dead skin cells and increase luminosity.” Among this year’s offerings are a ‘mud and suds’ pedicure ($95), and body treatment that uses beer for exfoliation and massage—in addition to a relaxing beer soak at the end (from $195). Weekend rates at the Lodge are $369 per person, per night, or $738 for two.