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Introducing The Ninkasi Thirst Responder

May 10, 2017 Comments (13)  | Tags: Events Introducing The Ninkasi Thirst Responder

It took about 2 years but I finally found my dream “car.” It wasn’t close to anything I had been searching for. I had no clue how to drive stick; It was a manual transmission. I was looking for a 4-wheel drive, it was rear wheel drive with duallys. I wanted something newer; It was made in 1988. I was looking at 4-door options, it had 9 doors total. I was hoping for something common so I could source parts anywhere in the US; it would require all parts getting shipped over from Europe. I really wanted a reliable used pickup truck; it was a 1988 Mercedes German Fire Truck. SOLD.

I drove it home two days later. (Well, technically speaking, I guess I didn't drive it home. I had my friend who knew how to drive a manual transmission drive it back for me.) The dream was to convert it into a rolling home for my dog Oso and I, that could serve cold draft beer directly off of the back. With only two weeks left before taking it down to Joshua Tree for The Outpost tradeshow, we started the conversion process to make it into a true road-worthy Ninkasi Thirst Responder.

Draft Beer

It wouldn’t be a true Thirst Responder if it couldn't pour fresh, delicious beer directly off of the back, right? We customized a underbar refrigerator with four taps running off the side so we can pull up anywhere and have a variety of cold beer ready to pour for the masses. Can’t have people going thirsty.


Power from the Sun

It was a goal to make the vehicle a completely self-contained event unit. The truck should be able to pull up into the middle of nowhere for an extended period of time and pour cold beer for days, without having to rely on going to the store to stock up on ice. Solar power from Goal Zero allows us to do this. The two 90W Boulder Panels feeds into the Yeti 1250 electric generator,  which powers the kegerator and keeps the beer cold. Cold beer powered by the sun!

Human Power

For extra power, the truck carries along a Pedal Power, Bike Friday bicycle that is wired to feed power into the electric generator. As you pedal the bike, you are actually generating electricity directly into the Goal Zero generator that is powering the kegerator. Pedal Powered Cold Beer!

Penthouse Apartment

To truly make this a home on wheels, the truck needed somewhere to sleep. We opted for a Cascadia Vehicle Tent (CVT) rooftop tent. It sits 13 feet up off the ground, which makes for some great views and comfortable sleeping. It sleeps 3+ people comfortably, which makes it plenty roomy for Oso and I. Rhino Rack’s gutter mounting rack system supports the tent perfectly.


To keep everyone cool (or dry) depending on the conditions, we installed a Foxwing awning by Rhino Rack USA. The awning is super cool because it wraps around the truck 270 degrees. This gives us plenty of room to set up chairs, lights, and music under so people can kick back and enjoy their beer in the shade.

Solar Shower

Created with 4-inch diameter by 6 feet long ABS piping. T-Threading so you can screw off and fill up with about 6 gallons of water. It will be heated by the sun and pressurized through a 12V Air Compressor that screws onto the bike valve fitting in the end cap. Because getting covered in sticky beer is just part of the job, and having a way to rinse off will be nice.

Life in the Thirst Responder

With a lot of improvements made, the time came to take the fire truck on the road! Oso and I are going down to Joshua Tree for 2 weeks. We will be living and working out of the fire truck along the way. Stay tuned for more about life so far in the Ninkasi Thirst Responder.



About the Author

Billy Nick is THE Ninkasi road warrior. Whether sharing beers in a remote desert location for a bunch of overlanders or creating a Ninkasi experience in your neighborhood, Billy knows how to bring Ninkasi and good times to the people. Tune in here to follow the Thirst Responder and where you might be able to catch Billy (with his fluffy companion Oso) on the road! 

Comments (13)

  1. Heather Beck:
    May 10, 2017 at 10:03 AM

    Love this!

  2. Theresa Buswell:
    May 10, 2017 at 10:57 AM

    This is absolutely glorious. Always wanted something like this. Props to Ninkasi

  3. Phillip McHan:
    May 10, 2017 at 01:05 PM

    Awesome. Would love to see the Thirst Responder here in Fort Worth one of these days :D

  4. Roger:
    May 10, 2017 at 02:50 PM

    This is awesome! Can't wait to see this amazing rig in person, and have a beer or two as well!

  5. Jb:
    May 10, 2017 at 03:59 PM

    Hell yes!

  6. meg nick:
    May 11, 2017 at 09:18 AM

    So cool Spilly!!!

  7. Alan:
    May 11, 2017 at 10:40 AM

    Cool! How does one arrange for a response call?

  8. Dan:
    May 11, 2017 at 02:12 PM

    That's going to go right beside out Emergency Cider Response Unit. We are converting a 1978 ambulance to a refrigerated mobile tap station! Nice work!

  9. Jeff cunningham:
    May 11, 2017 at 09:26 PM

    Send news letters........

  10. Sea Jay:
    May 12, 2017 at 08:23 AM

    Would you like to come to The Dead Baby Downhill?

    It'll be the first weekend in August. Let us know what it would take to get you here.

  11. Darla Gravelle:
    May 12, 2017 at 08:49 AM

    This is SO rad!

  12. Bill Verner:
    May 13, 2017 at 07:49 AM

    What a great idea. Un-incorporated camp grounds now have you to thank for providing adult beverage without the need to drive back to the nearest store ( could be many miles away) for their cold and frosty Ninkasi beer! Got pretzels?

  13. Carley:
    May 15, 2017 at 09:09 PM

    I LOVE it! I just stumbled upon the idea of an adventure van myself, and have been non-stop google searching them ever since. Dreaming of the day I can take my dog and bikes to all the places!

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