A FORMER Wokingham schoolboy James Mattingley is preparing to brew up something special for Peach Place.
Planned to open next month, the Sit & Sip Tasting will specialise in craft beers from local brewers, as well as artisan spirits created by small family businesses, which can all be enjoyed with Tasting Boards featuring meats, cheeses and accompaniments, many of which have been sourced locally by Berkshire producers.
As part of the town centre regeneration, Sit & Sip are busy putting the final touches to their Tasting Room, bringing 10 new jobs to the town.
This will be the second branch of Sit & Sip Tasting Room, which is owned by the 38-year-old businessman and his Dad Brian. Their first launch – in Chichester last year – has been a huge success in the town.
Mr Mattingley is now bringing the Sit & Sip concept closer to home, with the second Tasting Room opening within Peach Place’s courtyard area – what was the Rose Street car park.
James, who lived in Earley for 10 years and attended Reading Blue Coat School in Sonning, is excited to be bringing his Sit & Sip business to the town, as he says he always hoped to open in Wokingham.
The business was founded after James quit his job in the corporate world working for a large health and fitness brand. Inspiration came from family holidays in the South of France and South Africa, where he discovered the concept of tasting experiences.
James said: “I’m a beer drinker, I love a traditional beer. But my wife isn’t the biggest fan of pubs and unfortunately, I don’t particularly like cocktail bars, so we struggled to find somewhere we both liked to visit and enjoy a drink together.
“I started to wonder is there a gap in the UK market for somewhere that has a cool, funky, and relaxing environment that’s attractive to both men and women, where I could develop this tasting concept I had seen elsewhere.
“I wanted to bring in produce that tastes great and is non-mainstream, drinks that you won’t get anywhere else.
“I took the leap and quit my corporate job. We didn’t know if this would actually work. It’s been really successful in Chichester and really well received. Now we’re bringing it to Wokingham and I really hope people will enjoy it. It’s something new for the town.
“We’ve worked with some fantastic producers, and for me that’s been the real appealing side of the story behind all of this.
“One of the gins we serve in Chichester is made by a husband and wife team in their garage. Sit & Sip is such a marriage between these cottage industry suppliers trying to get their brands out there and us wanting to bring something a bit different to our customers.”
Visitors to Sit & Sip can choose from a revolving selection of drinks, with several choices from local breweries and small producers on offer at all times. At Sit & Sip you can pick a pint, or glass, of your choice or go for a flight of a paddle in order to taste the different range of what the tasting room has to offer.
The Tasting Room also offers a takeaway option, so that you can take your favourite brews home with you.
Local suppliers will include Siren Craft Brew, which is based in Finchampstead, and West Berkshire Brewery, based in Yattendon.
Sit & Sip will hold around two monthly themed tasting events where visitors can find out more about the creation process behind their favourite drinks and sample some special guest products.
There will be regular events such as Tap Takeovers from companies such as West Berkshire Brewery and Spirits Tastings and Masterclasses with Gorilla Spirits.
James added: “We want to create an experience for the customer that is a little different and takes them out of their comfort zone by offering a quality range of different craft and artisan products that you can’t get elsewhere.
“At Sit & Sip our Tasting Rooms are all about the cool environment, quality products, great people and good times!
“But we will also serve the familiar to people who just want to come in and have a drink, rather than go for something quirky. If you want to come and try something a bit different you can, but there’s still drinks people will be familiar with.”
People in Wokingham wanting to get all of the latest information about Sit & Sip’s opening night, and future tasting events, can sign up to The Tasting Club and receive updates by visiting www.sitandsip.co.uk.