The Rose and Crown is the latest News & Mail Pub of the Year contender
A healthy trade in some of Britain's best real ales is the secret to the growing success of the reinvigorated Rose and Crown pub in Sandhurst, according to its landlords.
Peter Cozens, 54, and wife Michelle, 51, took over the venerable high street boozer almost a year ago in November 2012, and have since set about transforming its ailing fortunes.
A strong focus on a hearty line-up of classic pub grub from the perennially popular liver and bacon to Mr Cozens’ homemade sausages as well as a vibrant offering of real ales and ciders, the duo have already established themselves at the heart of the community.
And their efforts have not gone unnoticed either after the pub was honoured with a place in the Campaign for Real Ale’s (CAMRA) annual Good Beer Guide (GBG) last month.
Mr Cozens told the News & Mail the Rose and Crown was the couple’s third pub since they decided to pursue their dream some six years ago, and comes after stints in Freefold, Hampshire, and another pub near Abergavenny in south Wales.
“This time, we’re hoping to be here for the long run,” he said.
“We took on this place on November 15 last year, so it’s been nearly a year in the making and we’ve taken on a 10-year lease.
“We’ve given the place a complete refurbishment as it was in quite a bad way, which has really allowed us to open the place up and make greater use of the kitchen area.
“By all accounts, it’s one of oldest pubs – if not the oldest – in Sandhurst. The main part certainly hasn’t hardly changed very much for years now.”
The Rose and Crown is one of 95 pubs in CAMRA’s south east Berkshire branch area of which only 11 can be put forward for the GBG each year.
In September, Mr and Mrs Cozens were joined by branch chairman David Richards as well as mayor of Sandhurst, councillor Michael Brossard, and his deputy, councillor Pauline McKenzie, to mark the award.
Under the stewardship of the Punch Taverns group, Mr Cozens said he was delighted by the freedom afforded to himself and his wife to really stamp their authority on the pub.
He said: “We’ve got seven real ale pumps, three of which are always stocked with local ales, so we always have a broad variety of ales on offer. That’s massively important to us.
“It’s one of the few areas we can really take the fight to the supermarkets. It’s a huge asset to be able to serve some of the very best ales available.”
Besides the Rose and Crown’s attention to its food and drink, the pub also boasts Sky Sports, a jukebox, and a dartboard to keep punters in good spirits.
There are also frequent promotions, live music and special events – the next one being the pub’s Halloween beer festival between October 31 and November 3, which will feature around 20 different beers and ciders.
Live music on Thursday and Friday will be followed by a screening at 9pm on Saturday of comedy classic, The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
“It’s going to be a lot of fun,” said Mr Cozens.
“Our aim is to eventually host events like this throughout the year, with a big one in the summer and another in the winter.
“We have had a tough year getting things going but the support from the likes of CAMRA and our regulars has been fantastic.
“This is our future,” he added.