Next time you’re in the mood for a beer-cation, there’s an Oregon hot spot worth exploring. Sisters — the rustic, outdoorsy haven 20 miles northwest of Bend — is home to the United States’ first beer spa, where you can enjoy a pint while you soak in a rejuvenating hops-filled hot tub.
You can also make Sisters your homebase for Zwickelmania (Feb. 17-24, 2018), when brewers across Oregon open their doors for public tours and events. All year-round you can partake in brewers’ dinners and special release parties, and there’s a not-to-miss fresh hops festival for the biggest craft beer nerds in Sisters each fall.
Here’s some inspiration for your Sisters beer-cation:
Hop in the Spa
With a licensing agreement from Bend-based Deschutes Brewery, the state’s largest brewery, Hop in the Spa in Sisters offers three “hops hydrotherapy” treatments featuring three top Deschutes beers: Mirror Pond, Abyss and Black Butte Porter. With each soak they say you’ll gain positive health effects, like skin and joint therapy, stress reduction and a boost to the circulation system. (Cheers to your health!)
Start off with a pre-soak pint (they have 16 on tap) and a fresh, hot bavarian pretzel, and pair it with a therapeutic massage if you like afterward. The barley and Oregon-grown hops are brewed on site, then brought down to an optimal soaking temperature and steeped with minerals. It’s not straight-up beer, so don’t worry about drinking your bathwater. “I imagine you could drink it,” manager Mike Boyle says, “but we wouldn’t recommend bringing a straw.”
In March 2018 the spa will open their beer garden, offer in-house food deliveries from top local restaurants and collaborate with Deschutes on beer pairing dinners in their expanded space.
Tour a brewery
Just a mile away from the spa, Three Creeks Brewing Company has been Sisters’ only brewery since their 2008 launch. In addition to a full lineup of pub grub and crowd-pleasing brews — like Hoodoo Voodoo IPA and FivePine Chocolate Porter — this 10-barrel brewhouse, on the wooded campus of FivePine Lodge & Spa, offers a host of year-round events (see below), including the occasional night of Bend Beer Yoga. Call anytime to arrange a brewery tour.
Several top Central Oregon breweries will host official events for Zwickelmania. All are free and open to the public, and include beer tastings, tours and meet-the-brewer events. From your home base in Sisters, it’ll be hopping at Three Creeks Brewing, which is hosting a pre-Zwickelmania open house and release of their latest barrel-aged ales; Sunriver Brewing Company (40 miles south of Sisters); Worthy Brewing in Bend (25 miles south of Sisters); and Wild Ride Brewing in Redmond (20 miles east of Sisters), which will pair some of their tastiest beers with Girl Scout Cookies for some tasty nostalgia. Find details at the Oregon Brewers’ Guild or individual breweries.
Spring brewers’ dinner
Three Creeks host an annual four-course spring brewers’ dinner with Deschutes in March, featuring an inspired lineup of dishes designed to complement the beers.
Fresh Hop Festival
Mosey on back to Sisters in the fall for the Sisters Fresh Hop Festival (Sept. 28, 2019), when you can taste limited-release, fresh-hopped beer samples from more than a dozen breweries from Central Oregon and beyond.
Bend Ale Trail
Set out on the Bend Ale Trail. Bring your designated driver on a mini excursion, or better yet — leave the car at home and hop aboard a bus, cowboy carriage, electric car, electric bike or cycle pub for a guided tour.