By Patty Mamula
For the Oregon Beer Growler
The Travelin Taphouse is a unique, fully customized beer trailer that can carry 30 kegs and has 12 taps. Even more, the mobile bar is an ingenious concept that provides almost any service you might want for any occasion — including weddings. And as nuptial-planning season kicks into high gear, a taphouse that brings the party to you might be the perfect fit for the reception of a craft beer-loving couple.
“We’re your one-stop shopping for any event, large or small,” said coordinator Patricia McPherson. The Travelin Taphouse not only brings the beer — and any other drinks requested — but also ambiance, including music, lighting, seating and a fire pit.
Tyke Murdock, who lives in Dallas, designed and owns the taps-on-wheels setup. Murdock, a confirmed extrovert who could easily be the poster child for the person who never met a stranger, came up with the idea while watching his good friend open a taphouse.
“I like to interact with people,” said the one-time police officer. “I’m not a big drinker, but I got interested in beer and started studying [Jeff Alworth’s book] ‘The Beer Bible.’”
Combining the convivial atmosphere with the popularity and mobility of a food truck all came together when Murdock’s wife suggested a beer cart. Murdock wanted to ensure choice for his customers, which is why there’s a dozen taps instead of two or three. Their first event was at Detroit Lake during Fourth of July celebrations. Murdock also brought his Travelin Dogs food cart.
When selling beer to the public, he submits paperwork for approval and draws up a plan that shows how the space will be arranged and staffed. For private setups like tailgate parties, he usually contains the area with attractive fencing and contacts the site involved. For couples planning a wedding, McPherson has a helpful and detailed checklist. “Most people don’t realize how many things there are to consider,” she said.
The list of services that Travelin Taphouse provides is daunting: from catering a full sit-down dinner to serving a more affordable, but no less impressive, buffet meal on China or plastic. The bar options are seemingly endless, including beer taps, wine service and even mixed drinks.
“We have all the required licenses and certificates,” said Murdock, whose experience supervising group homes probably helped him navigate all the regulatory hurdles. “Alcohol management is an important part of any package we sell,” he said. Murdock always has the appropriate number of alcohol monitors overseeing his events. “We take the stress off the wedding and assume all responsibility for alcohol consumption,” he said.
Although the Travelin Taphouse goes all over the state, many of the wedding venues they have worked at are scattered throughout Willamette Valley. Organizers can cater to any style of reception: from rustic to shabby chic to black tie with tuxedoed waiters. As an added bonus, Murdock can perform the ceremony since he is a minister. Now that’s what you call full service.
One of their favorite public events last summer was the Pendleton Round-Up. Their family-friendly space included a stage for hula hooping and food from the executive chef at The Joel Palmer House in Dayton. “The Round-Up time can get pretty wild,” Murdock said, “but we had no incidents.”
He has learned that beer tastes vary widely according to region and works to bring the styles and brands people prefer in any given area. Murdock also researches sales and always carries two ciders.
For custom events like weddings, the clients choose what they want. Murdock said the couple might decide to have a host/no-host bar, where the first three kegs are on them and after that, guests have to pay. Murdock emphasized he does not mark up his beer and charges clients exactly what he pays. There are smaller barrel options if a customer wants to have a wider assortment at a more reasonable price.
“If you want a variety, let’s look at six barrels and that way you can have more choices,” he said. “We want to work with the budget in mind.”
Stories from the print edition of the Oregon Beer Growler.