Beer Background

Salute Good Beer Guide's Famous 5 pubs

Added: Sunday, September 17th 2017

Buckingham Arms

The launch of the 2018 edition of the CAMRA Good Beer Guide salutes five amazing pubs that have featured in all 45 editions. With around a third of the pub entries changing every year, it’s testimony to the quality of the beer in the Famous Five that they have been chosen for inclusion in the guide year after year.

The pubs are:

Buckingham Arms, 62 Petty France, London SW1. A pub that is more spacious inside than the bow-windowed exterior suggests, it has a delightful interior of stained-glass screens, fine mirrors, dark woodwork and a large curved bar. Said to be a former hat shop, is opened as a pub in the 1720s and was called the Bell. It was renamed the Black Horse in the 1740s, rebuilt in 1898 and given its present name in 1901. It attracts visitors to the area as well as civil servants and the occasional Member of Parliament. Owned by Young’s, it serves the full range of the company’s beers and guest ales.

Roscoe Head

Roscoe Head, 24 Roscoe Street, Liverpool. A cosy and welcoming four-room pub named in honour of William Roscoe, a leading campaigner against the slave trade.  It has been run by the same family for more than 30 years, with Carol Ross now in charge. The pub features large and impressive brewery mirrors and serves Timothy Taylor Landlord, Tetley Bitter and four changing beers, often Rock the Boat. Since the pub was sold to a national pub company, there have been fears for its future and an active Save the Roscoe Head campaign is primed to fight to save it.

Star Tavern

Star Tavern, 6 Belgrave Mews West, London SW1. A mews pub with steps up from the cobbled mews and attractive hanging baskets outside, it has a small front bar, spacious side room and an upstairs bar and restaurant. It’s claimed – though it’s disputed – that the Great Train Robbery was planned in the second storey bar. Surrounded by elegant Regency buildings and embassies, it attracts local residents and embassy workers and was once home to the raffish “demimonde” of butlers, servants and black marketers. It serves the full range of Fuller’s beers, including  Vintage Ale.

Square & Compass

Square & Compass, Weston Road, Worth Matravers, near Corfe Castle, Dorset. This ancient, unspoilt ale house is named after the implements used by workers digging Purbeck stone from the surrounding quarries. The pub doesn’t have a bar – beer is served straight from casks behind a serving hatch. The Square & Compass has been run by the Newman family for more than 100 years and the current owner, Charlie of that clan, make his own cider from apples collected in Wareham Forest. The large rooms are decorated with paintings of the pub and local area, and cartoons of the Newmans. There’s a small museum with fossils from the Jurassic Coast while the large front garden has superb views of St Alban’s Head and the sea. There are beer and cider festivals in the autumn: some beers come from the new Hattie Brown’s brewery in nearby Swanage.

Queens Head

Queen’s Head, Fowlmere Road, Newton, Cambridgeshire. A former coaching inn on the road to Cambridge, the Queen’s Head started life as a farm in the 17th century. The farmer won a good local following for his home-brewed ale and took the next step of turning his home into a pub. The brick building, with imposing tall chimneys, stands at the junction of five roads. There’s a small saloon and a larger public bar with settles and open fires. A room leading off from the main bar has such traditional pub games as Devil Among the Tailors. The list of landlords in the main bar has just 18 entries and the pub is currently run by Rob Short who took over from his parents David and Juliet. The full range of Adnams’ ales comes from casks behind the bar and the pub is famous for its home-made soup. The queen shown on the pub sign is Anne of Cleeves, who has no known connection with the area. The King and German Kaiser once drank there and the Shah of Persia also visited shortly before he lost the Peacock Throne. The car park used to be controlled by a goose called Belinda: her stuffed body is now in a case in the bar.