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Rockin' Robin microbrewery lands in Barming pub

Friday 21st December 2018

AWARD-winning Kent microbrewery Rockin Robin has teamed up with Britain’s oldest brewer Shepherd Neame to launch its first pub.

The Duke of Edinburgh in Barming near Maidstone, owned by Shepherd Neame, has been taken over by Rockin Robin and renamed Rockin Robin on the Green.

Shepherd Neame’s director of retail and tenanted operations Nigel Bunting said: “We will be supplying lagers, wines, spirits and minerals, while the majority of cask beer will be supplied by Rockin Robin. It is the first time we have undertaken this type of collaboration, but we are excited to be working with an award-winning local microbrewery on this unique project.”

Rockin Robin Brewery was founded in 2011 by brewer Robin Smallbone at his home in Loose. He initially produced just three barrels a week but, due to high demand, moved to a 15-barrel microbrewery at a farm in nearby Boughton Monchelsea in 2014. Since then, the brewery has won numerous accolades from industry bodies including the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA). Its Reliant Robin bitter was also runner-up for Kent Beer of the Year in this year’s Taste of Kent Awards.

He said: “I grew up near Maidstone and have drunk Shepherd Neame beer all my life, so I am very proud of this partnership with them. When I started brewing, I was inspired by the likes of Shepherd Neame and Harvey’s to make traditional beer, rather than off-the-wall ‘craft beer’, so it is amazing to now be working with them in this way.”

He was prompted to approach Shepherd Neame about taking on a pub following the success of the Beer Barn, a small function area he opened at his brewery two years ago.

Michelle Gordon, brewery sales manager and Robin’s partner of 11 years, said: “Lots of our drinkers wanted to come down to the farm to try our beer, so we decided to open the Beer Barn. It gave us the confidence to realise we can diversify, as we have so many supportive followers.”

The couple decided to look into local venues which might be suitable for further expansion, and discovered the Duke of Edinburgh was available.

Robin said: “We are both from the area, as Michelle went to Barming Primary and I went to West Borough Primary, and we both attended Astor of Hever School, now St Augustine Academy in Maidstone. Michelle’s mum still lives up the road. We knew the pub, as I have been drinking there since I was 18, so it seemed like the perfect choice.”