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|According to Widipeda (it has to be true since it’s on the internet) the flashing, revolving, hypnotizing, light on top of
an ambulance usually contains “a single, stationary bulb around which a curved mirror is spun (or which is attached
to a spinning mirror), or a lamp with a Fresnel lens. This creates rotating beam(s) of light, appearing to flash when
viewed.” Now that’s almost as interesting as knowing that “larger rotating lights may contain modular or sealed-beam
lamps which rotate as an assembly (commonly 2 or 4 bulbs, but possibly 1 or 3).” If only I had understood all of that
in my younger days I would never have blithely refereed to those wonderful beacons as cherry tops, or dare I admit
my gross impertinence, gumball machines.
Anyway, it was a gumball, I mean emergency warning light utilizing a Fresnel lens, that was the first thing my good
friend and Beernexus colleague Glenn “Big G” DeLuca and I noticed from our parking spot in the quiet hamlet of
Nanuet, NY last Saturday. By the way, there is little truth in the legend that the town was named after the 1924
Broadway play “No, No, Nannette”. Come on, who would name a town “No, No”? There is however a lot of truth in
the story that it played a significant role in the trading of Babe Ruth from the Red Sox to the Yankees. That however
is a tale for another day or to be more specific when I can’t think of anything else to write about for this column.
As Glenn and I walked closer to the light we saw it was affixed to the top of a perfectly pristine, shiny, and fully
functional 1957 Ford ambulance which was parked in front of our destination, the appropriately named Ambulance
The Ambulance Brew House was the real deal. Inside we found pictures of what it looked like when it was an actual
ambulance/first responder building decades earlier. One old picture even showed the very same ambulance whose
light had guided us parked in the former driveway of the building anxiously awaiting another mission of mercy. The
area is now used for outdoor beer drinking which in a way continues the place’s mission of good deeds. Anticipating
some doubting patrons, the picture even listed the VIN number to prove the ambulance was one and the same. As
two trusting souls we didn’t need any convincing. At this point the only thing we needed was beer.
The narrow interior was easily the best designed, wood paneled, no stools, two restroom, no juke box, former
ambulance station turned beer bar either of us had ever seen. And I can say that without fear of contradiction.
Making the place even more special was that fact that somehow it seemed to give off a warm glow of welcome. We
took a quick tour. There were a few high top tables on the right, a couple of booths on the left, and farther in, a
relatively small bar (without stools) facing four or five tables on the opposite wall. Out the back door was a nicely
appointed bier garden. But the star attraction was above the bar - two large blackboards listing the reason we had
journeyed to Nanuet - twenty lines of beer from the single best top to bottom brewery I know, the Other Half.
The Other Half is located in Brooklyn. If there is another half of the Other Half then I don’t know its whereabouts. I
had never heard of the brewery until several months ago when I shared a can of their Green Diamond DIPA from a
true beer savant Mr. Andrew Reilly. After Andrew revived me from the shock of having a beer better than just about
anything I’ve ever had (and I’ve had a few) he then proceeded to bring on a near heart attack when he opened a can
of All Green Everything. It was liquid perfection. Andrew went on to say all the beers made by this brewery were
equally good. At that point I wondered if the head brewer would adopt me. Thinking that might be a bit far fetched,
I settled for becoming Andrew’s committed acolyte (at least until his beer ran out). There was only one thing I had to
know – where and how did he get these beers?
As we continued to drink this elixir of the Gods, Andrew explained just how hard it was for him to secure a supply
since everything the Other Half made was done in limited batches and instantly sold out wherever it appeared. He
said that he had driven to the brewery and found a line of people around the block waiting to buy just about anything
that was available. He arrived there at 5 AM; the place opened at 10 AM. I bowed my head in reverence to Andrew's
saintly devotion to beer.
The Other Half brewery’s tasting room is, according to Andrew, “a touch worn”. I looked at some of the pictures he
had taken of it and realized that "a touch worn" was such a diplomatic description Andrew could easily be the next UN
Ambassador or at the very least a part time fill in for Dr. Phil. Most people would call the place several notches below
uninhabitable. The place has paint peeling from every surface, broken bricks on the floor, rusted out metal doors,
holes in anything that once was solid, and exposed pipes ready to disintegrate. I can only guess that the health
inspector figured he'd be on every beer lover's hit list if he closed them down..
The Ambulance Brew House had negotiated for over a year to pull off a full tap takeover with the Other Half. The
beers were to start flowing at their regular noon opening time. Glenn and I walked in the building at exactly 12:04.
There were about a dozen people already there drinking. We took a table near the front door and were instantly
welcomed by a most efficient waitress who brought a menu with every beer listed by number. “Do you need a
minute?” she asked. Knowing that anything from the Other Half had to be good we simply picked random numbers
from the list. I selected #5 and Glenn went with #10. The beers arrived in 12 ounce glasses almost instantly. For
the record #5 was Moasic IPA and #10 was Mylar Bags. Both were so good we imagined ordering another round and
mixing them together just to see what would happen, a sort of number #15 if you will. That insanity was only
temporary however when we saw the real #15 as Double Dry Hopped All-Citra Everything.
The only negative thing on the beer menu was a notation on the bottom of the page – “no flights will be served and
no growlers filled due to the limited availability of all the beers.” No flights meant that realistically we wouldn’t be able
to taste all the beers today; no growlers meant we wouldn’t be able to taste them all again tomorrow in the (as
Andrew might say) the touch worn BeerNexus' office. Ah, but right below that disappointing line came a healing
declaration – every beer could be purchased in 5 ounce pours. We didn’t quite understand how that differed from
the flights but being believers in the rule of law we ordered 5 ounce pours, two beers at a time until we reach number
twenty.. The beers were consistently great though full disclosure forces me to reveal that two of the twenty beers
were shockingly just very, very,very good. Both were farmhouse ales which for me is a style usually best left in the
Looking around the room Glenn noticed that on the wall next to each table was a short white rope with the label
“Emergency Beer Cord – Pull When Needed”. Checking the wall behind us we made a frightening discovery - we did
not have one. There wasn’t even a sign directing us to the nearest safety area. We were at the Titanic of tables,
destined to drink soda or water in case of a beer emergency. It seemed as if we were stranded on Gilligan’s Island
without Ginger or Mary Ann. Panic was about to consume us just as our waitress appeared with another round. She
assuaged our fears by saying she was on a personal mission from God to instantly bring beer to our table in times of
trouble (or not). We let out a loud sigh of relief and drank the beer.
We finished our last drinks, paid the bill, and went in search of someone to thank for one of the great beer days we
could ever imagine excluding of course a day in which Budweiser and Coors go bankrupt.. We shook random hands
until we eventually came upon the bar’s genial owner seated at an outside table. He gladly accepted our heartfelt
thanks and smiled. He knew he had pulled off the beer coup of the year and so did everyone else in the building.
The Ambulance Brew House does not serve liquor, all the better so they can concentrate on beer which is something
they do equally well on the other 364 days in the year when the Other Half only occupies a line or two. Every day of
the year their beer menu is filled with items that exemplify what is so great about craft beer. Check them out and you’ll
see what I mean.
Oh, if you go just make sure you sit at a table where the emergency white cord is working because in case of a real
emergency you might be in trouble –that gumball only makes an appearance once a year.
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