July 31, 2012 at 8:13 PM ET
Sitting at the bar sipping a microbrew is often an occasion to ask your friend or bartender about the beer or brewery. Is it local? Is it imported? What's the alcohol content? And can I have another? But if the barkeep is busy and your friends are clueless, you can text the beer's name to this number and get a comprehensive profile fired right back.
BeerText.Us is a simple service put together by a pair of students just last weekend, for a hackathon in Syracuse. It uses the Twilio service to handle the texting and gets all its information from BreweryDB, which lets apps access its database for just this kind of purpose.
How does it work? You text 315-679-4711 with the name of the beer, and within a minute or two you should receive a fairly detailed description, including (if the database has it available) data on where and how it's brewed, the type of hops, and so on. That's it — no sign-up process, no charge, just beer stats.
Be careful, though: some beers have rather excessive descriptions, and while your average microbrew might send you two or three messages to get you all the info, some will send far more. One commenter received forty after requesting information on a beer called Jack D'Or.
Things were a little shaky yesterday when the service made a slightly larger debut than the developers expected, but now it seems to be performing well, and has some new features: Numbered texts, and a delay between them to ensure they arrive in the correct order.
Devin Coldewey is acontributing writer for NBC News Digital. His personal website iscoldewey.cc.