We bought an ambulance to deliver beer with… How awesome is that?
Since Iron Springs opened in 2004, we have always had our sights set on a beer delivery vehicle powered by our own waste vegetable oil. For the first two years of being open, we found ourselves devoting most of our attention to various events and special needs of establishing the community restaurant that fit the owner’s vision. We kept our eyes peeled for the right van and, as more venues wanted our brew for their taps, the need for a devoted vehicle became stronger and then, as the sun broke through the fluffy clouds of another stellar fairfax day, we had our epiphany. While searching on craigslist for a diesel van, we discovered one that was also a retired ambulance. Sonoma county first purchased it in 1988, and recently auctioned it to an individual who then posted it on craigslist. We drove a couple of hours and spent the day testing the mechanics and electrical components, plenty of fun with all of the bells and whistles still in working order. Everything checked out and soon the deal was signed, and we began our own conversion process.
First stop: Diego Bros. Truck Repair in Larkspur. They performed a complete diagnostic test from bumper to bumper, tuned it up, changed the fluids and gave it their seal of approval. Next, we put on four new tires, gave it a paint job, and began the creative process of decal and design. It didn’t take long to come up with the name “Am-brew-lance” and next we altered the ‘star of life’ (found on all emergency vehicles, equivalent to the caduceus of medical personnel) to include a tall pilsner glass full of beer. Slogans were flowing from us like the bubbly elixir does from our taps…we narrowed it down to a few winners, and after West Coast Sign Works completed the project, the boys at Raw Energy were ready to install the vegetable oil system. This includes several fuel-heaters, filters, a state of the art fuel pump designed specifically for veggie oil fuel and custom regulated to fit our particular engine, plus some pressure and temperature gauges to monitor the veggie conversion components. Meanwhile, we devoted a closet inside the brewpub to storing and filtering our new fuel, which would be dispensed from the same reinforced containers that the virgin vegetable oil was first purchased in for cooking purposes. After the final adjustments and modifications (we had to change out the red emergency lenses to comply with state law) we had finally made this beautiful work of engineering and design into our maiden ship.
The Am-brew-lance, aside from making weekly keg deliveries throughout the bay area, receives enormous attention at the Boonville BeerFest, Fairfax Parades and Festivals, Unbroken Chain Benefits, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, Bioneers, various other local educational, musical, community events, and continues to turn heads and foster smiles, thumbs-up, and requests for a cold one, just about everywhere it goes. “Help on the way!”