Crooked Ladder Firetruck Beermobile Debuts at Chili Cookoff

crooked ladder gianna volpe

Red was all the rage at the 15th annual Hampton Bays Chamber of Commerce Chili/Chowder Contest at the Boardy Barn on Saturday.

Riverhead’s Crooked Ladder Brewing Company, the East End’s newest microbrewery, brought their already well-loved Gypsy Red, along with two other beers, to the event via a red fire engine—because that’s just how they roll.

“We’ve seen lots of guys that have smaller vehicles like pick-up trucks or your traditional van with taps on the side,” says Steve Wirth, a partner in Crooked Ladder and owner of next door’s Irish pub, Digger O’ Dell’s.  “We took it a step further because we’re us, so we went fire truck.”

The literally fire engine red beermobile, which can fit 10 half-barrels in its back, was once part of brew-master Duffy Griffith’s fleet at the Jamesport Fire Department and was converted into a rolling keggerator with help from Long Island company, Clear Beer, which also maintains the epic draft system at Digger’s. The downtown restaurant also serves as a sort of tasting laboratory for the brewing company

The Saturday afternoon event was the engine’s first public jaunt, but its owners already seem at ease with its operation and worked soundlessly by its side.

As Wirth ladled their rouge-colored wild boar chili into sample-sized plastic cups for queued-up consumers, Griffiths expertly tossed back the truck’s taps for the thirsty ones. That’s right—I said wild boar.

“We got it through U.S. Foods, which has an exotic meat department,” says Wirth. “You name it, they’ve got it.”

In addition to cubed pork loin, the chili also contained a number of local harvest vegetables, including tomatoes from Harbes and Reeve’s farms.

And though the chili’s vegetables were local, Wirth said Crooked Ladder has no immediate plans for purchasing local hops for their beer.

“We haven’t really designed an IPA we’re happy with, but once we have that recipe down, we’ll consider doing a wet-hopped ale,” he says. “We’re going to crawl before we run.”

Beer lovers may want to consider crawling too; Wirth says they’ve got an Oktoberfest on its way. “We think our seasonal beers are going to be really big. Our pumpkin ale is our number one seller right now.”