Published: 09:01, 08 March 2019
| Updated: 11:14, 08 March 2019
A Maidstone brewery which opened its own smokehouse earlier this year has won a prestigious gong for its beer.
Reliant Robin, by Rockin Robin Brewery, scooped the Beer of the Year prize at Produced in Kent's fifteenth Taste of Kent Awards last night.
It comes after owners Robin and Michelle Gordon opened the Rockin Robin Smokery in Staplehurst in January and relaunched Rockin Robin on the Green in Barming two months earlier.
The glitzy black-tie dinner at the Kent Event Centre in Detling celebrates the county's tastiest food and drink products, best producers, growers, restaurants, pubs and shops.
Other big winners on the night included The Small Holding in Kildown which claimed the gong for Kent Restuarant of the Year, and Café Nucleus in Chatham which won the first ever Kent Coffee Shop or Tea Room of the Year.
Stephanie Durling at Produced in Kent said: “This year we are celebrating our fifteenth awards and we are giving more awards as our range of winning categories has increased in recognition of Kent’s booming, vibrant and of course tasty food and drink sector.
"Congratulations to all of the winners and finalists, it is a fantastic achievement to have reached this stage, as the number of nominations and standards have been very high.
"Once again, we are delighted to see many new names making our finalist lists from across the county.
"Incredibly, we have seen 25% more businesses nominated and 40% more votes cast overall than last year.
"The people of Kent have chosen the flavours, products, produce and venues they have enjoyed the most over the last 12 months.
"For the winners, these awards are the ultimate accolade from their customers and confirmation of their food and drink excellence."
A full list of winners in each category is as follows.
Hop Grower of the Year, Sponsored by BTF Partnership and Lupofresh
Hukins Hops of Tenterden
Garden of England Champions Top Fruit, sponsored by BTF Partnership
Jazz apples - Grown by Chris Levett, Baretilt Farm, Cranbrook and Concorde Pear - Grown by J L Baxter, Coxheath
Kent Beer of the Year, sponsored by Eurostar International
Reliant Robin by Rockin Robin Brewery, Maidstone
The Garden of England Champion tastiest soft fruit and cherry, sponsored by the Kent County Agricultural Society
Cherries – Class 60 winner Brian Piper, Filmers Farm, Loose, Nr Maidstone with the variety Carmen.
Strawberries – Class 70 winner John Myatt & Co, Mockbegger Farm, Rochester with the strawberry variety Magnum.
Raspberries – Class 80 winner Total World Fruit with the Raspberry variety Ovation.
Blackberries – Class 90 John Myatt & Co, Mockbegger Farm, Rochester with the Blackberry variety Incentive.
Kent Cider or Perry of the Year, sponsored by Wilkins Kennedy
High Diver, Kentish Pip, Bekesbourne
Kent Food Product Classes Awards, sponsored by Shepherd Neame
Ambient - Cold Pressed Rapeseed Oil blended with Garden Mint – Kentish Oils Bridge
Bakery and confectionery - Apple Fruit Crisps – Nim’s Fruit Crisps Sittingbourne
Dairy Class - Farmhouse Butter – Plurenden Manor Farm High Halden
Prepared food - Boerewors Farmers Sausage – North Downs Real Food Lenham
Specialist Drinks - Pineapple, Beetroot & Parsnip Edible Tea - Nim’s fruit crisps Sittingbourne
Farm Diversification Award, sponsored by South East Farmer
Dudda’s Tun Cider, Doddington
Kent Wine of the Year, sponsored by NFU Mutual
Kits Coty Chardonnay, Chapel Down, Tenterden
Kent Local Food Retailer of the Year, sponsored by Opies
Barham Village Store, Barham
Kent Restaurant of the Year – Sponsored by Thomson, Snell & Passmore
The Small Holding, Kilndown
Kent Butchers Shop of the Year
Kent Food Producer of the Year, sponsored by Insight6
Precious Porkers, Collier Street
Kent Tastiest Juice of the Year, sponsored by AC Goatham & Son
Red Love Apple Juice, Biddenden Vineyards
Kent Dining Pub or Bistro of the Year – Sponsored by University of Kent
The Butcher’s Block, Burham
Kent Coffee Shop or Tea Room of the Year – Sponsored by Barretts of Canterbury
Café Nucleus, Chatham
Kent Countryside Award – Sponsored jointly by Kent Downs AONB and High Weald AONB
Large Farm - GL Boulden & Sons with Romney Marsh Wools and Romney Marsh Shepherd Huts, Aldington
Small Farm - Homestead Beef, Church Hougham near Dover
Food product: Sponsored by HSBC
Farmhouse Butter, Plurenden Manor Farm, High Halden
Excellence Award for Customer Service 2019: Sponsored by Insight6
The Butcher’s Block, Burham
Ms Durling added: “The brand-new category coffee shop/tea room received the most votes for any new category ever and we also had a record number of fruit juice votes this year.
"Also, for the first time ever a low alcohol beer Gadds’ No. 11 and Vegan Perks from Faversham is the first vegan business to have reached the finals, reflecting current trends, tastes and choices consumers are now making."