A Food Truck Favorite Is Tapping into Mobile Beer

The Chubby Chickpea stops at breweries like Aeronaut and Trillium, which bodes well for the chef's new venture, Tapped Beer Truck.

'Elvis,' the Tapped Beer Truck flagship

‘Elvis,’ the Tapped Beer Truck flagship. / Photo provided

When Avi Shemtov saw a listing for a 1966 Chevrolet P36 online earlier this month, the food truck operator immediately made an offer. But the vintage van won’t join his familiar, yellow, Chubby Chickpea truck on the road. Instead, it’s the perfect fit for the first Tapped Beer Truck, an idea that’s been brewing in his head for some time.

“[Chubby Chickpea works] with some of the cooler brewers around, like Night Shift, Trillium, [and] Aeronaut,” Shemtov says. While parked outside breweries and at beer festivals around the region, the chef has learned a lot about the craft brewing industry, including how small breweries self-distribute their products. “When I saw this vision in my head of how easy it could be for someone with my specific set of experiences [to get into mobile beer catering], I decided I’m doing this.”

“Elvis,” as he’s dubbed the Chevy, will be the Tapped Beer Truck flagship, and Shemtov recently purchased a second vehicle for the Tapped fleet, as well. They are currently being built out with refrigeration systems, and state-of-the-art draft systems. Elvis will have six taps on the outside of the van, from which a TIPS-certified employee will pour pints at private parties, weddings, and corporate events. (TIPS, or Training for Intervention ProcedureS, is the industry leader in education about responsible alcohol service.) Shemtov hopes to officially launch the company on April 1, and plans to add three more trucks to the Tapped fleet by July 1, 2017.

“Mobile anything has become cutting edge, and I think you’re going to see more and more places that want to have beer,” he says.

Tapped won’t do any cash sales or festivals, focusing only private catering. The Chubby Chickpea splits its revenue down the middle between retail and private catering, Shemtov says, and that company has a full liquor liability policy, even though it vends falafel rather than booze. He has employees who are fully certified to handle liquor service at weddings, bar mitzvahs, and more, so he knows what’s needed to staff such a venture.

It isn’t the first of its kind—Shemtov was at a wedding with an Ipswich Ale Brewery Tapmobile this summer, and Hive, a mobile cocktail bar, is on the scene, too. Barmobile is in the works from a talented team of Boston cocktail pros, and of course, you can rent the Shebeen to bring an Irish pub to your backyard.

But Tapped will work with various distributors to offer whatever beers a client wants, and Shemtov is hopeful he’ll be able to leverage the relationships he’s built in the craft beer world to give customers access to more exclusive kegs, he says. Eventually, Tapped could branch into wine and cocktail catering, too.

“There’s the novelty aspect, but there’s also a real utility aspect of saving you the headache and time of sourcing the beer, keeping it on ice, liability issues, and all that stuff,” he says.

At this point, Tapped has no official brewery partners, but “my model is predicated on my ability to get you something you can’t go get on your own,” Shemtov says. Tap into Instagram to keep up as Tapped Beer Truck gets rolling.