The Big Green Blog Post


When I was a kid, my mom had an old green Volkswagen bus, you know, similar to the one in Scooby-Doo; the iconic hippie-mobile. At the time I was really embarrassed by my mother’s eccentric taste in automobiles, but looking back it made perfect sense. The beads in her hair, the penchant for woodworking, and the green VW bus all pointed to one thing—she was a TOTAL hippie. Naturally, hippies were the first thing that came to my mind when I saw The Big Green Bus pull into our parking lot here at Stone on Wednesday afternoon, leaving a pungent aroma of hash browns in its wake.

The Big Green Bus

The Big Green Bus

The Big Green Bus is a full-size bus (1989 MCI Motorcoach, to be exact) remodeled by 15 Dartmouth students to be as sustainable and energy efficient as possible. The students are taking their green labor of love on a summer-long cross-country tour to raise awareness about sustainability and energy-efficient practices. And it smells like hash browns because it runs on 100% recycled vegetable oil, not because the students have a deep affinity for breakfast fare.

At first glance, The Big Green Bus looks like a glorified version of my mom’s old green VW bus, but that couldn’t be father from the truth. “We spend a lot of time convincing people that we’re not gross-smelling hippies,” said one student, “most of us showered this morning.” The Big Green Bus is much more than a meagerly-funded flower-child mobile with wicked green graphics. Along with running on biodiesel, the bus is also a mobile showcase of environmental conservation. Everything inside, from the low-energy plasma TV to the recycled bamboo flooring, is the epitome of energy efficiency.

Anna, a Dartmouth sophomore from the Big Green Bus, being interviewed for the local news. The Big Green Bus is greeted by cameras wherever they go.

Anna, a Dartmouth sophomore from the Big Green Bus, spreading her message on the local news. The Big Green Bus is greeted by cameras wherever they go.

If a summer-long tour on The Big Green Bus sounds like a great time, think again. These kids work hard. According to Kerry, it’s about 90% work and 10% play. Not exactly your quintessential summer of love. Everywhere the students go they’re greeted by news cameras and general media hubbub, and Stone was no exception. Escondido Mayor Lori Pfeiler, the folks at the California Center for Sustainable Energy, and a bevy of local media joined us in welcoming them to Stone on Wednesday afternoon.

So why did they come to Stone? Because they were hungry, of course (I guess word got out that our Bistro serves locally-grown, organic food). They also enjoyed a tour of the brewery and learned a bit about our solar array and our other efforts to operate sustainably. But most importantly, they came to fill up their tank with our Bistro’s used vegetable oil—the same stuff that our Lead Brewer John Egan uses to power his truck.

Mayor Lori Pfeiler and the folks from the California Center for Sustainable Energy joined us in welcoming the hard-working crew of 15 Dartmouth students

Mayor Lori Pfeiler and the folks from the California Center for Sustainable Energy joined us in welcoming the 15 hard-working Dartmouth students.

We’re stoked The Big Green Bus chose to stop and share a part of their journey with us, and we’re glad we could help spread their message. If you spy a lumbering green bus speeding down the highway smelling like Sunday brunch at iHop, give those hard-working Dartmouth students a honk in support. They deserve it.

-Matt Steele

John Egan Brews His Own Fuel Too


Remember last summer when gas prices were ridiculously inflated? Remember wiping away the tears while your hard-earned cash ticked away at the pump faster than our national debt? John Egan doesn’t. While the rest of us were subject to the tyranny of fossil fuels, John avoided gas stations entirely, comfortably enjoying his wallet-friendly biofuel solution. When John isn’t supervising our brewing team, managing our cask and barrel aging program, and watching over our prized special creation beers (like Stone Smoked Porter with Vanilla Beans), he’s indulging in his green side by converting 100% of our Bistro’s waste oil into biodiesel fuel to power his truck. So how does he do it?

John Egan’s 1999 Dodge Ram 2500, which weighs 7,000 lbs., can get up to 24 mpg using biodiesel. John also uses biodiesel in his 1980 Mercedes Benz 300D.

Every other week, John uses an electric pump powered by his truck battery to extract waste oil from a 50-gallon drum behind our Bistro. Once the oil is filled back into the containers it first came in, he takes it home, processes it in the custom-built system in his garage, dumps it in the tank of his truck, and voila!

So what does biodiesel have to do with beer? Well, according to John, being a brewer comes in handy. “There are a tremendous amount of parallels between biodiesel and brewing,” said John. “You take raw materials and turn them into something else, and quality is extremely important. Much of the same equipment is used such as pumps, hoses, valves, tanks, filters, etc.  Actually, used brewing equipment would work exceptionally well to make biodiesel with.”

While John genuinely enjoys “taking waste materials and turning them into something of value,” he admits that brewing biodiesel isn’t a walk in the park. “It’s quite involved and takes effort,” said John. “It’s not one of those things that you try out, and then decide to scrap after a few months.”

John extracting the oil from the 50 gallon drum behind our Bistro

John extracting the oil from the 50 gallon drum behind our Bistro. Before our Bistro opened in November 2006, John acquired waste oil by other means, including reclaiming the oil used to make the Arrogant Bastard Ale Onion Rings at our Anniversary parties.

Sure, brewing biodiesel isn’t easy, but it is easy on the wallet. After processing, one gallon of biofuel comes out to about $1. Aside from being outrageously cheap, biodiesel also runs a lot cleaner than regular diesel, and emits a pleasing french fry smell as an added bonus. It can be slightly less efficient than regular diesel, though still more efficient than regular gasoline.

John is obviously a fan of the environment, but he’s also realistic. He feels that biofuels are “an important part of our energy matrix as a supplement, but they aren’t the solution to our energy problems.” Sure, biofuel may not be the magical panacea for our energy woes, but it definitely helps. John put it best when he said “it feels very good to reuse things that would otherwise find their way into a landfill.” That’s something I think we can all agree on.

-Matt Steele

Check out the press release we wrote about our Delivery Truck Fleet running on biodiesel.