Next year’s edition (the 40th anniversary, no less) of the Real Ale Guide bestows greatness on the Roscoe Head – one of only seven pubs in the UK to be named in every edition of the Good Beer Guide since it was first published in 1974. The only pub in the northwest to do so, and now one of CAMRA’s elite ‘Magnificent Seven’. You’d have to travel over 190 miles to reach the next-closest one, in Netherton (that’s Netherton Northumberland, not north Liverpool).
It might be a tight fit inside, but the Roscoe still manages to squeeze in a snug, a bar area, and two immaculate lounges: the perfect place for a leisurely pint of Liverpool Organic 24/7, or Adnam’s Sole Star, or perhaps a Barnsley Brewery’s Apollo IPA. In fact, if you’re not sure, you can sample three one-third glasses, suspended from a handy wooden tray.
Carol Ross who took over as landlady in 1997 after her mum and dad retired says the secret to the pub’s success lies in the pub’s cool, dark cellar.
We’re sure she’s right. Even the fickle Guinness is poured to perfection here. But we’d say it’s in the welcome, too. Oh, and in the delicious Cumberland pie, chips and peas (two meals for £6.50). “You can have scouse too,” Carol says, “but I do a proper scouse, so I need a day’s warning, to stew it slowly.” Slow food, Roscoe Head style, is right up our alley.
The pub might seem half as old as time – but it started life as a trim townhouse in the 1870s, a floor of which was occupied by shipwright, James Mclevie. Actually, when you’re comfortably ensconced on the banquettes you can still feel like you’ve just popped around to your favourite great aunty’s parlour.
The place is named after banker turned slave abolitionist (and philanthropist), William Roscoe (1753-1833) (there’s a great Roscoe hunt over on A Sense of Place).
Some say that the man – that rare thing: an honourable banker – deserved a more fitting tribute than the slim thoroughfare of Roscoe Street, on which the pub lies. It was even suggested that Lime Street be renamed Roscoe Street on his death in 1833. Fact is, the man could have no better memorial than this democratic, warm and convivial watering hole.
Yes, it’s a tough time for our boozers. But when they’re as pin-sharp as the Roscoe Head, we think talk of their death is very, very exaggerated.
24 Roscoe Street
Liverpool L1 2SX
0151 707 6933