Rockin Robin, founded in 2011 by brewer Robin Smallbone at his home in Loose in Kent, has taken over the Duke of Edinburgh pub in Barming, near Maidstone, and renamed it Rockin Robin on the Green.
Initially producing just three barrels per week, Smallbone moved to a 15-barrel microbrewery at a farm in nearby Boughton Monchelsea in 2014 – winning recognition from both the Society for Independent Brewers and the Campaign for Real Ale, and its Reliant Robin bitter finishing as runner-up as Kent Beer of the Year in this year’s Taste of Kent Awards, since.
Smallbone approached Shepherd Neame about the prospect of taking on the Duke of Edinburgh site following the success of the Beer Barn, a small function area which it opened at its brewery two years ago.
Ties to the area
Discussing Rockin Robin’s partnership with Shepherd Neame, Smallbone commented: “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.”
Michelle Gordon, Rockin Robin’s sales manager and Smallbone’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.”
Smallbone added: “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 because I have been drinking there since I was 18, so it seemed like the perfect choice.
“Taking on this pub isn’t just about supporting our brewery by selling beer. I love people and I love socialising, so we will be doing everything we can to ensure that we make Rockin Robin on the Green a fun, friendly pub where people can enjoy great food and drink, feel welcome and have fun.”
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.”