Otherwise known as the ‘little Roscoe’ (there’s a larger pub with a similar name around the corner), The Roscoe Head is one of seven pubs in the UK that has featured in every edition of the Good Beer Guide, which should go some way to describing how good it is.
It’s easy to see why. Beer is important in the Roscoe, which has been run by the same family for the last three and a bit decades. When threatened with closure recently, following a change of ownership to a company with a record of turning pubs into not-pubs, there were concerns the diminutive Grade-II pub could be turned into a branch of Sports Direct – or similar terrible fate. But the real-ale community rallied round and the Roscoe Head’s fate seems secure until the 2020s at least. Don’t expect a jukebox, karaoke or Sky Sports.
There’s always a good choice of local ales in the Roscoe Head alongside those from further afield, generally from members of the Society of Independent Brewers. Tim Taylor’s Landlord is usually one of the six cask ales available. You can taste all six for about seven quid, if you purchase two lots of tasting racks that hold three third of pint glasses. This may be your best way to choose what beer you’re going to settle for if you’re planning on a session as no tasters are allowed, apparently by diktat of the company that now owns the pub.
The Roscoe is made up of a small bar area, two cosy rooms and a snug so small it could be mistaken for a cupboard. Inevitably it generally seems to be the most popular. The staff are friendly and knowledgeable on the subject of beer and the Roscoe runs its own beer festival in the Autumn – possibly the only beer festival in an alleyway in the country. Most weekday nights have events such as quizzes (Tuesdays – expect free chip butties) and cribbage (Wednesdays) and there’s good pub grub (baguettes, curries and pies) at lunchtime.