Have a fiery thirst? – Call for the engine that’s now a pub!
This fire engine is not all that it seems – as it has been converted into a mobile pub!
It once proudly served in the West Midlands Fire Service fleet in Smethwick.
But the Dennis fire engine has since been transformed into a specialist bar for craft beer.
The water tanks have been ripped out and replaced by a road-going beer cellar, and the sides are equipped with six taps that allow customers to pour their own drinks.
It now travels around the country, flaring up people’s enthusiasm for microbreweries and fire engines.
The idea was the brainchild of Mel Evans, 50, and Richard Brown, 52, business partners in The Tipple Truck.
Mel, a shopping centre opening manager from Sutton Coldfield, West Mids, said: “It’s something completely different and we’re really proud of it.
“It’s great fun, and it gets people talking.
“They like to see the fire engine up close as well as sample all the beer, so it really does keep them happy.
“We’ve tried to keep most of it as original as possible. It’s mostly the inside that’s changed, but the cab and the front are still the same, and it’s still a beautiful red.
The idea came to them when they were looking to get more microbreweries and craft beers to outdoor events.
As they discussed the difficulties of transporting kegs to sites in a local pub, another customer overheard them and offered a fire engine out of the blue.
To Mel and Richard it seemed a perfect idea, but they were almost left heartbroken when they found out someone had beaten them to it.
Mel said: “We started off wondering whether we should buy a pub, but we thought going mobile would be a lot better.
“Then we came across the self-pour system, and that seemed the best idea.
“The problem was, we didn’t really have a suitable vehicle, until one day we were talking about it over a drink and a guy in the pub asked if we wanted a fireengine.
“It was entirely strange, and really fantastic.
“It turned out a group of students had bought the fire engine with the idea of doing the same thing about two years ago.
“We were gutted when we thought someone had beaten us to it.
“But they hadn’t been able to get it off the ground, as they hadn’t made the fireengine road legal.
“So we got in touch with them to ask about it.”
They eventually acquired the fire engine for a mere £6,000 in September. The price was greatly reduced, as the vehicle needed plenty of work.
Not only did the water tanks need replacing with equipment to store and serve beer, the fire engine had to be restored and made road legal.
The work took six months before The Tipple Truck could be launched in February.
Mel said: “It was a lot of intensive work to get it ready, but we’re really pleased with the final result.”
The Tipple Truck was launched at the NEC in Birmingham on February 9.
It works with an ‘Oyster card’ system, in which top up credit on a card, take it to the pumps, and then use it to choose their drink.
Customers only pay for what they pour, meaning they are able to sample everything that is on offer before taking a larger amount of one.
It means they can take different beers from microbreweries for people to try, which might not otherwise produce enough to be able to take to events.
Richard said: “While we can of course run The Tipple Truck as a normal service bar, we believe the self-pour will be hugely popular, as it means customers can get right up close to the fire engine.”
Mel claims the idea has already had very positive feedback, and that people get excited by the chance to buy beer and see the engine.
She said: “We’ve had lots of great comments. People really seem to enjoy going right up to the fire engine.
“We just need to make sure we keep great beer flowing.”
Jason Greene, a beer expert who is sourcing the first drinks, said: “I’ve been working with brewers and landlords for over 25 years, and loved the idea of taking the best of the brews out and about.
“While I have played a big part in sourcing the beers, what The Tipple Truck is really about is getting customers to tell us what they love – not just of the beers we are already serving, but others they have sampled anywhere in the country so we can add the best to our stock list.”