Home > Beer > Mr Foley’s Wonder Emporium

Mr Foley’s Wonder Emporium

Dean Pugh, the manager of Mr Foley’s Cask Ale House in Leeds (and in his spare time, homebrewer, beer geek and good bloke), has been working to build on and improve the range of beers on offer at Mr Foley’s for some time now, and recently I’ve really started to notice how this Mitchell’s Of Lancaster pub has evolved into a beer bar worth getting properly excited about.

You can tell a really good beer bar (for me at least, and probably beer geeks generally) because you go in and find it really hard to make a decision; not because of the lack of choice, but rather because there are too many things you really want to try, like on the first day of a good beer festival. This has been my experience of Mr Foley’s recently, whose support for cask beers from interesting local microbreweries in particular does a real service to West Yorkshire’s beer scene.

I went in last Thursday after reading Leigh’s mention of RedWillow Ageless Double IPA on his blog. However when I saw what was on the bar, I also wanted to try the other cask beers I hadn’t tried before: Revolutions’ Smiths-themed non-royal wedding beer “…It was really nothing”; Elgood’s Pageant Ale; Hardknott’s Atomic Narcissus; York Brewery’s Pride Of York. That wasn’t even the limit of the selection, which included a total of nine cask ales, the remainder being Burton Bridge’s Burton Porter; and York’s Ghost, Terrier and Guzzler.

And that wasn’t the end of it, because the keg selection is really quite impressive as well. A recent addition is a permanent BrewDog pump, which had both IPA Is Dead Nelson Sauvin and New Punk on; other pumps included Leffe, Amstel, Marston’s Oyster Stout, Erdinger and Pilsner Urquell.  Then you could move on to the fridges, which include a lot of interesting craft bottles including 4 BrewDog bottles; 6 fruit beers; at least 8 US craft beers before getting onto the Belgian, German and Czech ones.

I think Mr Foley’s can confuse people a bit as to its identity: it’s quite a large pub in the old Pearl Assurance offices, spread out over at least four assorted levels.  It has bigscreen TVs often showing sports. The telly brings (well behaved) sports fans in for football, Super League etc., but manages not to keep the (pro-quiet pub) CAMRA types away: the ticking is too tempting. You also get the after-work crowd from surrounding council and professional offices, society meetings in the back room etc. It’s usually pretty buzzy and with a wide range of people.

On the subject of beerticking, on this occasion I went for the Hardknott Atomic Narcissus: a “pride”-type best bitter at 4.2%. It had a solid amber to brown colour with a creamy head. There was a rich forest fruit to slightly savoury aroma I can’t quite place. It had a definite but mellow bitterness, with a solid malt base. The RedWillow Ageless Double IPA at 7.2% had a really lovely tropical citrus aroma, a smooth, rich mouthfeel and a good lasting bitter aftertaste.

As if to emphasise that the great range of cask beer isn’t just a happy coincidence, the pumpclips behind the bar showing upcoming beers are pretty exciting too: a selection of beer from Summer Wine; Hardknott; Mallinson’s; Rooster’s; Hopback; Elgood; and Castle Rock.

Now, if I’ve not convinced you with enough lists, you can head over to Mr Foley’s It’s Your Round page to see what’s on the bar right now. Just remember not to take Mr Foley’s for granted: it’s unquestionably the best pub in Leeds for cask ale and now it’s got a few more strings to its bow.

UPDATE: Dean has subsequently informed me that there’s a further expansion of the range about to take place in the coming weeks, with more than 30 new bottles in the fridges and two new keg lines, one each for US and UK craft keg.  The US keg line will host the likes of O’Dell, Sierra Nevada, Victory, Brooklyn and Anchor (which would be wonderful) and, even more excitingly, the UK keg should include Summer Wine and Magic Rock! 

For more on Mr Foleys see this post from Ghost Drinker.

  1. May 13, 2011 at 1:24 pm

    It just goes to show that these chain pubs can offer good choice when in the hands of a good manager. Well done Dean.

  2. May 13, 2011 at 2:12 pm

    i was in there with colette the other day and Dean came over for a chat and a few pints and we were talking about how the range is getting better and better tha nks to the brewery and pub owners seeing good results from his massive input. I think the powers that be are realising they dont need to stick to boring bests and pales, they can push the boat out with unusual and exciting craft beers from little known brewerys.

    Dean has done a massive amount to turn this place into *just about* my favourite pub in Leeds.

    Plus a pint of 7+ percent Ageless was a frankly awesome £3.30 when I was in.

    Seriously top draw.

  3. May 13, 2011 at 6:16 pm

    Well said Nick – I can’t go too far in my love for Foley’s ‘cos it’s pretty much my local (as I work in town) and those that know me know I drink in there more than any other pub; so I don’t want to seem biased but if you look at TGS and the amount of beer reviews that come from Foley’s that shows how important the place has become to the drinking scene in Leeds.
    The updating, and constant improvement of Beer on offer – such as putting the BrewDog keg in – should be applauded. The beer range has evolved from being York – heavy (understandably) from being truly varied and top-drawer. The prices remain affordable, and the staff are cool, too. Plus – and this is a big plus for me – Sport in a civilised environment, without dickheads spoiling it. This is all down to Dean and the sheer effort he’s put in over the last 12-6 months has been immense. Nicholson’s should be proud, and start looking more to Foley’s as a flagship than they probably do. Yes, nice post.

  4. May 18, 2011 at 9:41 am

    Jo and I are definitely going to have to come on over the Pennines to Leeds on the train one day this summer for a wander round the Leeds city centre pubs. It’s quite ridiculous that we haven’t made the trip over from Manchester before now.

  1. June 4, 2011 at 4:53 pm
  2. May 6, 2012 at 1:49 pm

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