Telegraph Pub Review
The Roscoe Head is a Liverpool institution where past and present comes together in a glorious whole.
I’m first through the door at opening time. Early doors indeed, and why not? The Roscoe Head is a Liverpool pub institution — the only one on Merseyside that’s featured in every edition of Camra’s Good Beer Guide since the book’s debut in 1974.
Given the attritional rate of pub closures and takeovers over the years, this is no mean feat. I might be first but I’m not alone – not by a long shot.
The man behind me has a newspaper tucked under his arm like an RSM’s baton and he makes purposefully for the snug — wood panelling, wooden floors, framed prints on the wall … dare one use the phrase “man cave”? A stool is pulled out and he asks for his pint of Tetley’s Bitter.
I’ve got my beer already — Barnsley Brewery’s Apollo IPA, orange marmalade on the nose and palate; a creamy texture leading to a punchy bitter finish — and head for the parlour-like front lounge.
There’s an indefinable sense of comfort about this space: banquettes line the wall, above which old brass bells still hang.
Landlady Carol Ross, who took over the pub from her parents, tells me that the bells worked until recently. Framed pictures and posters of breweries decorate the walls and add to the intimacy and seductive allure of the room.
Others obviously feel the same, as a trio colonises an adjoining table and plans an early lunch. Work gossip floats over in my direction – “He works a lot from home…” “Yeah, apparently in the company of a bottle of red wine.”
I tune in and out of the conversation but also find myself melting into the traditional and comforting surroundings. I could stay here all day.
The Roscoe Head serves wholesome pub grub — baguettes and toasties are joined by the likes of chicken curry and steak and kidney pie with chips. I plump for the latter and consider another pint.
There are six real ales on display at the bar. As well as offering comfort and joy, the Roscoe is also celebrated for its support of microbreweries, both local and farther afield. Adnams’s New Zealand Pale Ale is a zingy, refreshing pint and an excellent consort to the pie.
Even though it feels like it has been around forever, this gem actually started life as a private house in the 1870s. And if you stand still and catch a quiet moment, it’s easy to sense the ghost of the house that once was (the family around the piano on a musical night, perhaps).
Some pubs have ghosts in the shape of a former local or licensee, but at the Roscoe Head, past and present come together to form a glorious whole.