As any Angeleno knows, there are a lot of gripes from outsiders that often befall the City of Angels. Not least of which come from the drinking crowd, who consistently decry the lack of public transportation to and from their favorite watering holes. This, of course, is only partially true, and largely depends on where you like to take your sips. For example, downtown is chock full of transit access from all directions, whereas Eagle Rock Brewery or Golden Road... not so much. So what is a beer fan to do in Los Angeles when they want to brewery-jump on a warm Saturday afternoon, but can't find anyone willing to drive them? Take the L.A. Beer Hop.
Hal Mooney, the owner and bus operator behind the newest craft beer niche business, now finds himself most weekends behind the wheel of a moving, hulking beer machine. The 16-passenger bus, emblazoned with a BEER TOURS placard across the top, can be found running circles around the craft beer brewery scene in Los Angeles County. Depending on the route, Mooney and his busload of beer fans might hit everything from Golden Road Brewing, Angel City Brewery and Mohawk Bend to El Segundo Brewing, Strand Brewing, or Monkish Brewing in Torrance. And the bus is fully licensed and insured, which means you can fill a growler at one stop and drink it right on the bus before you hit your next destination. Or, if the bus stops at Select Beer Store in Redondo Beach or Sunset Beer Company in Echo Park, you can grab a six-pack and share with your new friends.
And you will be making friends. L.A. Beer Hop is a four-hour tour that includes conversations with brewmasters and owners, beer aficionados and newcomers alike. There's an all-for-one atmosphere that quickly hits the bus, with prior strangers chatting loudly about hops and alcohol levels. Of course, the slow and steady stream of high-quality craft beer helps to loosen up everyone's tongue, and before long the conversations are happening over old Rush hits, with frequent breaks for bus-wide sing-alongs and air guitar riffing.
To say L.A. Beer Hop is a good time would be an understatement. Mooney has specifically constructed the sort of transportation party that all those grumpy newcomers seem unable to find in Los Angeles. And while the public tours are limited to early weekend evenings, the service is door to door and the information you receive at each location is invaluable. Small, curated tasters offer curious drinkers the opportunity to try a wider array of a single brewery's beer choices, while also putting them in contact with the person who made it. There's something special in that simple, full-circle connection. And, without Hal Mooney and L.A. Beer Hop, it's not likely to be something the average craft beer fan could replicate on their own.
Since the explosion of craft beer in L.A. County, the periphery experiences that have come up to meet the public demand have been a welcome addition to the landscape. Some, of course, are better than others, and most still require you to pay $10 for parking. But with L.A. Beer Hop, your $65 is spread over four hours and includes all your transportation needs, plus a tasting glass for you to take home. And best of all? The out-of-towners have one less thing to gripe about.
Read all about drinking in Los Angeles at our SoCal Spirits page.