Conceived over a couple of steins at Oktoberfest, a famous beer festival in Munich, The Ale Van is the brain child of James, Dave and Jamie, 3 beer enthusiasts who decided to convert a VW LT35 horse transporter into a very cool and unique mobile bar. Fast forward to 2018 and the boys are now in full swing of hiring their bar out at weddings and events and I think you’ll agree, it is the perfect addition to any festival or outdoor wedding.
Dubbed as being a ‘beer festival on wheels,’ this quirky bar serves real ale, craft lager on tap, cider, spirits, wine, cocktails and prosecco. They offer bespoke drinks packages where you can build your own menu (with beer tasting included) and, if you want to kill two birds with one stone, catering as well in the form of a hog roast, BBQ and canapes. They sound like the perfect finished article to me!
We asked James all about The Ale Van, their drinks packages and the sort of service you can expect if you were to book them for your wedding.
Tell us a little bit about yourselves?
The Ale Van has three owners, all long time friends going back to our school days. Between us we have over 30 years experience in the events and hospitality industry. I was born into the trade, growing up and working in my families public house. I have since gone on to manage my own event bars. Another member is a skilled chef and restaurateur and our final member is our tech guy, a wizard when it comes to all our IT issues. We are all keen enthusiasts of all things beer.
If you had the chance to go to any music festival, which one would it be and why?
Not strictly a music festival but Oktoberfest is definitely our favorite festival – great beer, good atmosphere and you get to wear lederhosen, what’s not to like. The idea for The Ale Van was fittingly originally conceived over a couple of steins at the Oktoberfest in Munich.
Tell us a little bit more about The Ale Van and why you decided to convert a VW horse transporter into a very cool mobile bar?
The Ale Van is a one of kind conversion, and that’s what we wanted. It needed to be something a little different. To our knowledge there is no other VW LT35 bar conversion out there, we are the only one.
Converting a vw horse transporter allows us to provide the client with the full beer festival experience. We can fit 8 different lines of beer in there, not to mention our very cool drop down stage section which can be used as an extra bar serving cocktails or prosecco , or we have even had musicians playing on it in the past. It definitely has its own unique rustic charm, and that’s really something we wanted to keep in its restoration.
How does The Ale Van work and what sort of drinks menu do you offer? Do you supply seating and tables for guests?
We have the capacity to serve from 8 firkins, plus we have craft lager on tap. The Ale Van is a fully functioning bar so we stock all the drinks you would expect to find in a normal public house, not to mention a wide variety of gins, whiskeys and vodkas. We also specialise in cocktails and have a varied wine list.
All of these options can be made into bespoke drink packages if the client requires or we can just operate as a cash bar. Dependent on the size of the event we usually have around 3 people staffing the van, if we are required to do table service then we bring more. We do supply tables and seating for our drinkers (hay bales if your feeling really rustic) , we have heaters too for those chillier nights.
You mention you offer bespoke drinks packages. Can you explain what these can include?
We often get asked by the couples to come up with bespoke packages and we like to work closely with the couples on this. We are not tied to any particular brewery so we can be flexible when it comes to some of the beer we sell. If the client requires a ‘signature’ ale for example we are more than happy to accommodate. In the past we have also devised ‘signature’ cocktails and entire cocktail menus for weddings.
In regard to full drink packages we can accommodate for the entire day, this can include welcome drinks, table wine, toasting prosecco / champagne, and a stocked bar working quietly in the background. We also offer limited bars, where we only provide a few options, this helps with keeping the costs down if the organiser is picking up the tab.
However more often than not we are told to bring the entire bar and operate as a cash bar, even then though we do allow for pre-paid vouchers if the organiser wishes to distribute these out to the guests. This is a good way of ensuring everyone gets their fair share and keeps the organiser in budget.
The Ale Van is an external bar but do you also offer an inside bar in case of extremely bad weather?
Yes we do. The Pop Up Bar side of our business is steadily getting more and more popular, some couples just request the pop up bar and not the van which is completely fine.
We really love to build bespoke bars for our clients – in buildings, marquees or out in the open, quite a few couples have ordered The Ale Van and a pop up bar. Our bespoke bars are fully staffed, and can accommodate the same drink options the van can provide.
As well as supplying drinks, is their food and snacks available from your bar?
Yes we can supply a fantastic hog roast, manned and fully serviced, a commercial scale bbq and even canapes if required. One of the team is a highly skilled chef with years of experience in providing food for outdoor events.
If our readers were to book The Ale Van for their wedding, what sort of service can they expect?
We work very closely with our clients, we understand that if a couple is going to all the trouble of organising a festival themed wedding then the bar must fit in with that theme as much as possible.
We keep in as much communication with the couples as possible, we even offer tasting afternoons at breweries with them when it comes to devising packages in the lead up to the wedding if the they require it.
In regard to the service on the day we are usually one of the first to arrive on site (need to give the beer time to settle!) and we are obviously there to the end ensuring the party continues. We also offer special touches including tasting notes and gin/pimms stations. We can also apply for and sort out any tricky licensing issues.
What is your best piece of advice you can offer our readers when it comes to choosing a bar for their wedding?
You need to choose a bar company that is as invested in your wedding as you are, and one that you can totally rely on. The Ale Van is that bar service, the team are not sales men, we just love what we do, and we really enjoy working with the couples in creating perfect lifelong memories.
Finally, what’s your quote/motto at The Ale Van?
‘Anyone can drink beer, but it takes intelligence to enjoy beer’
I think I may have to crack open a beer. Well it’s 5 o’clock somewhere right!?
Big Beer Love
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