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Fire truck takes care of the thirsty at North Fork beer festival

The Crooked Ladder Brewing Co. purchased this fire

The Crooked Ladder Brewing Co. purchased this fire truck from the Jamesport Fire Department, where the company's founder, Duffy Griffiths, previously worked.

Most fire trucks pump water to put out fires. But imagine one that quenches thirst ... with beer.

For those who visited the North Fork Craft Beer, BBQ & Wine Festival on Saturday, imagination became reality as visitors lined up to sample beers that came from a ruby red truck owned by the Crooked Ladder Brewing Co.

“You see a shiny, red fire truck, you’re gonna be drawn to it,” said Steven Czelatka, the assistant brewer at Crooked Ladder Brewing Co. “But as soon as you open the door up and you have taps, now you’re really drawn to it. There’s no turning back.”

Duffy Griffiths, a retired fire chief, and David Wirth, a contractor and construction worker, opened Crooked ladder Brewery in downtown Riverhead last June.

Using a retired vehicle from the Jamesport Fire Department where Griffiths previously worked, the company modified the truck by adding two taps to the side for pouring ale and using cabinets at the bottom for storing kegs and barrels.

“It’s starting this year,” said Czelatka, who said the truck will be used for events and promotions. “This is another work in progress, like a growing business. This truck is something that we’d like to use as a main marketing ploy. We get very good feedback from it.”

More than 2,500 people attended, sampling 250 brews from more than 70 breweries.

Event manager Joe Chierchie, 35, said that Long Island has become a hot spot for beer-making, with the number of native breweries growing from four to 19 in the last five years.

“The Long Island community is booming,” he said.

Visitors seemed satisfied.  

“Beer on a nice summer day, what more could you ask for?” asked Stephen Smith, 31, of South Setauket.

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