The Bottle Mix
Like many independents, The Bottle Mix was born from a passion. Neil Richards is a real-ale champion and produces many of CAMRA’s regional newsletters and beer festival programmes. Through this, he was sampling real ales and meeting the producers. He saw the opportunity to use his passion, knowledge and contacts to create a business and in October 2015 he opened The Bottle Mix shop in Kettering.
Real ale can be confusing. The names are often eccentric but have little to do with the taste (we give you ‘Rankenstein’, ‘Medicinal Purposes’ and ‘Right Turn Clyde’ as supporting evidence). At The Bottle Mix, the range is ordered by county and then by brewer, which adds logic and makes browsing easier.
Northamptonshire microbreweries such as Whistling Kite, Great Oakley and Pot Belly are regulars on the shelves, along with the bigger producers like The Grainstore and Oakham Ales. The rest of the range is constantly changing. Neil operates an efficient transport system – collecting stock when he delivers the regional CAMRA newsletters or piggybacking deliveries and collections made by friends. This enables him to stock beers from Dorset to Yorkshire, keeping the choice interesting, the price competitive, and making The Bottle Mix a destination for real-ale enthusiasts and collectors.
As well as bottled ales (including gluten-free), you can buy mini kegs, world beers, Two Birds gin and vodka from the Jelley distillery, and a recent move to new premises has allowed Neil to add two pumps in the shop, so customers can enjoy a beer while they browse. If there is a particular beer you want, Neil will try his best to source it. He supplies larger quantities for parties and all orders over £10 are delivered free within a 12-mile radius: simply order online and wait for your beer to arrive.
Whether you want to try unusual flavours such as Marshmallow Milk Stout, Coffee & Vanilla Porter or Spicy Sausage Bitter, or are tempted by names like Wot’s Occurring, Pump Fiction or P51, you are spoilt for choice at The Bottle Mix.
By Anna Forgaard, north Northants & Rutland editor