San Francisco is a food truck mecca. From burritos to Irish/Eritrean fusion — if you can think of it, someone’s probably already serving it out the back of a van. But where does one get a sudsy man soda to wash down his artisan lamb sliders? From the only mobile taproom within the city limits — Brewtruc.
The Brewtruc, which debuted in October of last year, is the brainchild of Hugh Schick, a San Francisco-based catering truck designer. It grew from his previous work on the ultra-popular Le Truc mobile eatery. “The phrase Le Truc means ‘Gizmo’,” Schick explained to Gizmodo. “I thought it was a good pun on truck but also on gadgets — it’s the ultimate gadget.”
And boy, what a gadget it is. Schick first scored a gently used, 1997 12m school bus with 145,000kms on its AT466 Cummings diesel engine for a measly $US4000. He then spent an additional $US55,000 converting it into a mobile bar. Schick and his team installed a 93-inch (236cm) keg fridge in the rear of the bus that holds six full-sized 60-litre kegs from local artisan brewers. These kegs feed 12 individual taps — six interior and six exterior — and are cooled by a 20-litre glycol chiller system. A propane-powered generator runs the system when the engine is off.
To make room for all this equipment, Schick used the lightest materials he could and removed most of the heavy wooden seats on the bus, cut five skylights out of the raised roof and shifed the remaining benches against the side of the vehicle. “We’re arranged for comfort and interaction, not for maximum capacity,” Schick said. The bus was originally rated at 15,000kg GVWR however the retrofit eliminated nearly 3175kg of excess to bring the weight rating down to just 12,000kg, including 350 litres of hooch and 26 guests.
The Brewtruc is typically hired as a livery service toting patrons around the city while dispensing local nano-brews. But how does one serve beer in a moving vehicle legally? Schick actually found a very slick solution to get around California’s Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control regulations — he registered the bus as a limo, which is regulated by the Public Utility Commission. This has the added bonus of making the Brewtruc the only public space in San Francisco where one can legally sell homebrew beers. Since artisan brewing doesn’t have to adhere official ABC food safety regulations, it is illegal to consume it outside of the home unless the space (say a PUC-regulated bus) is exempt.
In addition to ferrying groups, the Brewtruc is also big on the San Francisco food truck circuit. When it isn’t hosting charity events, you can often find it hosting impromptu beer gardens around AT&T Park — just look for the big black beer bus. [Geezericious – Urban Daddy – The Bold Italic – Facebook – Local Addition – Brewtruc – Thrillist]
The exterior taps
Hugh Schick at work