Wine on tap - is this mobile bar coming to your village?

PUBLISHED: 18:09 18 October 2018 | UPDATED: 10:05 19 October 2018

Tap and Tipple are taking their mobile bar out to Norfolk's rural communities  Picture: Tap and Tipple

Tap and Tipple are taking their mobile bar out to Norfolk's rural communities Picture: Tap and Tipple


Tap and Tipple hopes to bring rural communities together over a glass of wine.

Did you know that at least 850 pubs have been lost in Norfolk?

While larger towns, and certainly the city, can in some ways take these knocks, for villagers living in the rural midst of the county, the dwindling loss of these hubs and amenities comes like a punch to the gut.

In the tiniest hamlets, where pubs have been the lifeblood of communities for decades, the rug being pulled from under residents’ feet when their local shuts can be devastating.

A new business currently being set-up on the south Norfolk border is hoping to bring the village pub back – albeit in a slightly less traditional manner, without bricks and mortar.

Matthew Harrowven launched Tap and Tipple at the weekend. Run out of a converted horse box, his dream is to travel across the county, popping up in small towns and villages where there aren’t many facilities, offering wine and beer on tap to drink in situ (bringing local people together) or to be bottled into a vessel from customers’ own home, or bought (for a nominal fee) from the van.

“The idea started a long while ago,” Matthew says. “I worked in the drinks industry for a number of years and a few large importers had been banging on about wine on tap for a long long time. It started to take off in London and I thought why not grow it outside of London?

“I thought ‘I’m going to do it’. So this year I set up Tap and Tipple with the intention of taking our concept of wine on tap to small rural communities – a bit like the old fish man or veg man who used to travel around with his wares. Lots of these places are losing their shops and pubs so this is a way to get people to come out of their homes, interact with other villagers and talk about wines and local beers!”

To start there will be four lines of wine on tap to purchase – two everyday, easy drinking, great value approachable wines and a couple of ‘second tier’ options such as Argentinian Malbec. On the other side of the bar will be a couple of lines of craft beer from brewers such as Ampersand.

Being eco-friendly is the buzz phrase of the moment and with this in mind Matthew is only supplying clear glass bottles, as green glass has become a huge issue in the waste industry. He also has hopes to use an electric vehicle in the future.

Matthew is currently working out a rota of where to take the business during the week but hopes it brings a spark of excitement wherever he turns up.

“I want it to be a bit like the experience my wife and I had when we lived in the South of France near Perpignon. We’d go out on a Thursday and the mobile pizza guy would show up in a low transit to cook and the whole village would show up. The local wine co-operative would open selling wine for not a lot of money, and the place was packed. It was a great community feeling. We’d like to take other people with us like this in the future to make a real event of it.”

And Matthew certainly has the know-how to do that, having previously run The Wandering Wine Company, supporting large sporting events including major cricket and rugby matches.

He also sees, with the technology he has, the business installing wine or beer taps to independent food stores and farm shops. Watch this space.

If you’d like the mobile pub to visit your village you can contact Matthew via the Harrow and Fearne website.

If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Eastern Daily Press. Click the link in the orange box above for details.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Latest from the Eastern Daily Press