Equipment required for a van based bar?

Good morning all,

I’m considering re-fitting my 1967 Citroen catering van as a mobile bar. I plan to offer various guns and cocktails, but realise that there is still a demand for ales and lagers.

As I only have a finite space to work in, I need to find the most efficient  use of space. Ideally I’d like to offer a cask ale, a lager or craft ale alongside the spirit offerings, as not everyone is a gin fanatic.

I’ve already got a sink for handwashing installed and a consumer unit for electricity, supplied from a 16 amp plug. Additionally, I have many catering quality cool boxes which can store ice for up to 3 days etc.

It’s been a good 10 years since I last set foot in a cellar, so I expect equipment  has moved on from what I was used to dealing with.

So what equipment would you recommend for dispensing cask and keg products? It needs to be light, easy to maintain and clean and capable of dispensing products at the correct temperatures.

Thanks in advance.

  5 comments for “Equipment required for a van based bar?

  1. Home Brew
    8th September 2017 at 1:49 pm

    I don’t know about older equipment or whether technology has moved on but as I understand it there is only one way to cask dispense lager and that’s replacing the charge with CO2 or mixed gases and pushing it through a flash cooler just before serving. If you are likely to sell multiple barrels then a fob detector would be helpful to save waste although the lines will be very short I suspect. I guess you would not have to have line cleaning pumps permanently installed as you could attend to this off site as it were. You would just have to think about insurance as carrying compressed gas might be an issue. Not sure how that side works really. I suppose you would need to hook up the night before at your base to build up the ice bank in the chiller. Serve warm beer and you won’t have a business for very long. I live in Hemel if you want to see my set up in the shed. Regards Dave

  2. hoppy
    8th September 2017 at 4:56 pm

    Hi John

    Stuff really hasn’t changed much in the last ten years unless you want state of the art. The best way would probably be the simplest, really it will be down to the volume of beer you will be moving. For the lager I would probably use 5 or 6 ft of restricter pipe (3/16) from the tap to the cooler and do away with the flow adjuster(they only cause problems on outside bars anyway).

    This way the cooler doesn’t have to be directly under the bar and you don’t have to bother with pythons. As you will be selling other things and the cooler wont be in constant use so you might be able to get away with a Cornelius Maxi 210 under-counter cooler, I find these recover ice quickly.

    Or failing that a mini concorde, only this may be over kill for one product. Then use a mixed gas primary with secondary valve you can get them combined online and use 60/40 mixed gas (I wouldn’t use Co2) making the gas bottle safe by fixing it upright with a strap.. It’s not really worth bothering with a fob detector.

    Both these coolers I have mentioned use recirculating water systems which means you could use it for cask cooling jackets. On outside bars I find the cask widge straight up to the handpull, to be the easiest to use, as your not grovelling about on the floor banging the tap in.

    Or the cheapest way like they do at beer festivals to serve the cask beer is to go native and stillage the cask on a counter with a jacket with a bag of ice in-between on top and tap it and serve directly from there. I would recommend that cask ale you buy is bright.

  3. InnVictus Bar&Cellar Services
    8th September 2017 at 5:02 pm

    We are based up in Lancashire. Can supply all kit if needed as we’ve done a couple of van bars.
    Cheers
    Paul

  4. 9th September 2017 at 9:49 am

    We have been in mobile bars for several years.

    Space wise your best bet would be a Caskwidge system for your ale combined with an Angram handpull, perhaps cooked with a vertical jacket or even those specialist freezer bag covers. Vertical dispense of ale will reduce waste and mess while helping with space.

    No one has mentioned the other method of dispensing keg products. Look up “Lindr beer tap”. They work using cooling plates and compressed air, all from one unit with its own taps. Space wise they are smaller and less complex than a full cellar board system.
    They claim to be able to dispense cold beer/cider within 5 minutes of turning on.
    Although for high capacity their bigger model cost North of £1k.
    There are some interesting YouTube videos of them at work.

    Best of luck.

  5. J0hn
    9th September 2017 at 12:26 pm

    Thanks for all of the responses guys.

    Re: compressed gas/insurance. There has never been a problem when transporting LPG for events, so I don’t envisage an insurer worrying about cover for a bar gas.

    I will have a read about all of the suggestions and no doubt come back with more questions.

Do you have a better answer? Leave a reply or an opinion