Food & Drink

This Free Hotline Will Answer Every Beer Question You've Ever Had

Several weeks ago, an LA tour guide named Hal Mooney stumbled upon a brilliant idea: instead of limiting his encyclopedic knowledge to ticketed tourists, why not ship it out on demand to any old suds-guzzling fool with a phone? And thus, the Craft Beer Hotline was born.

Naturally, we Thrillist beer nerds just had to hear that hotline bling. So I dialed, and within four or five rings, Hal picked up.

“My wife and I run the LA Beer Hop, which is a brewery tour company in Los Angeles and we’ve been hanging out, tasting beers, and you know, talking about beer all day for about four years,” he told me. “I guess we just wanted to do that for people who aren’t on our bus.”

The concept is simple. Pick up the phone, dial 1-855-LA-BEERS (yes, it’s toll-free and no, I won’t write out the numbers for you right now) and either Hal or his lovely wife will pick up the phone, primed and ready to tackle whatever lingering question is bouncing around your fuzzy brain. Think a live-action Google, if Google only linked to random beer info.

“Our focus is on LA beer specifically but I'm also a Certified Cicerone [aka an official beer expert], so I know a lot about beer history, beer pairings, beer service, pouring, cleanliness -- all of it,” Hal explained. “We can answer just about anything.”

During the hotline’s initial soft roll-out, Hal told me that he and his wife Cindy mostly fielded calls from trolling friends and family members under various pseudonyms. Now that they’ve officially launched to the public, however, the lines are starting to light up like a frat boy at a keg party.

“It's kind of blown up over the past two days,” marveled the craft beer wizard. “We were getting a couple an hour yesterday afternoon, and then a few more than that at night when it seemed like people were out drinking and wanting to talk. That was pretty fun, actually, because if they're drinking, you know, I might be drinking, too. They might get a loose operator on the line.”

And with that, I put the ol’ smooth operator to the test with this batch of heavily deliberated over, extremely hard-hitting, and immensely important inquiries.

What do you say to people who claim to not like beer?

There's no such thing as a person who doesn't like beer, it's just a person who hasn't met the right beer yet.

Bottles or cans?

Cans are great. They're more versatile, they work really well, they're infinitely recyclable, and they can go anywhere. Beer should be for backpacking trips, drinking poolside, or at baseball games -- all of the places where glass bottles can get you in trouble. There’s no reason not to go with cans.

What day of the week is best for drinking beer and why?

Any day that ends in y. But also, I really like Thursdays. Most of the breweries are open but they're significantly less crowded and you're way more likely to run into the brewers then. It's just more involved.

Which of life's many problems cannot be solved with a beer?


If Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump were beers, what beers would they be?

Hillary Clinton would be a Honey Blonde. It kind of looks like her. And it's nice, easy going, gets the job done. It’s straight to the point. Donald Trump would be -- they're referred to as alcopops. Something like an orange vanilla apple ale. There's like no beer in it, just a lot of stuff made in a lab.

Are you drinking a beer right now?

I'm not. I'm driving right now actually. I tend to limit mixing the two.

What beer would you pair with gummy worms?

Let’s see. You can't do anything that's overly sweet or overly tart because that'll be too much together. I would do a funky Lambic, like something from Beachwood Blendery. It has some tart notes and some sweet notes but it has a lot of funk and pepper in the back. The candy would bring out elements in the beer and the beer would wash down all the treacly sweetness of the gummy worms.

If you could change one thing about craft beer what would it be?

The thing is, craft beer's such a new game, it's always changing. For awhile, I wanted more canned beer, and now there's canned beer. I wanted more everyday drinkers, and now there's that. Now, I want more people loving what's made locally as opposed to trying to hunt down the "it beer."

Bang, marry, kill: Gose, Imperial Stout, Session IPA

I’m going to have to marry a Session IPA, because the whole idea behind a session beer is that you can drink a lot of it daily. And if I had to pick one in particular, it would probably be Stateside from Three Weavers Brewing in Englewood. Then, I would bang Imperial Stouts -- I could never kill Imperial Stouts. They're so useful for dark, cold nights, big foods, and desserts. And, by default, I'll kill the Gose. I've had way more bad Goses than bad Imperial Stouts.

If I want to be "seen" in LA, what beer should I have in my hand?

The hippest style right now is the hazy IPA, or the Northeastern style IPA. If you're seen with a can of Monkish Hazy IPA, that's the hippest you can get. It's not very bitter and it’s really juicy, like you get a lot of mango juice and orange juice out of it. Also, it's a famously ugly beer -- it looks a lot like Donald Trump's hair. But it's delicious.

Finish the sentence: An apple a day keeps the doctor away. A beer a day _____. just a good idea, period.

Sign up here for our daily Thrillist email, and get your fix of the best in food/drink/fun.

Meredith Heil is a staff writer for Thrillist. She knows when that craft beer hotline bling, that can only mean one thing. Ring her at @mereditto.