Beer Blog

The Otley Tap House


The Otley Tap House  probably falls into the category of a micro pub, in so far as it hasn’t always been a pub. It was a shop until it opened in it’s present guise, two days before the Tour de France came through Otley, which was Saturday 5th July 2014. I know that because I was there and what a cracking day it was for Otley, Yorkshire and British cycling in general.

I called in one sunny Thursday afternoon, shortly after one o’clock. There were only two older gents in, sat at the bar in conversation with the very nice bar man. It wasn’t dull though, because it’s that sort of place where within two minutes you get absorbed into the conversation, whether you like it or not. One of the blokes was keen not to be photographed as he was meant to be out walking the dog over Pool bridge, which is about three miles away, the bonny Spaniel seemed happy enough though, laid on the cool flagged floors.


If I’m honest, it’s a bit bigger than your standard micro pub and there’s plenty of room to spread out or even sit away from the bar. There’s some tables out front on Boroughgate as well as a beer garden at the rear. Inside there’s wooden wainscoting in ‘that shade’ of green paint that is so currently in vogue, along with a trendy, random assortment of tables, benches and bentwood chairs. To be fair, they’ve pulled it off and it all works nicely. There’s some nice touches with posies and other interesting table pieces and ephemera dotted around too.

I was impressed with the community feel, not just with the friendly folk, which is a prominent feature of Otley anyway, but also with the many events on offer. I was pleased they had a reggae band on and anywhere frequented by Scooterists will do for me.


Although there is a half decent bottle selection, including out and out crafty stuff, the focus is on real cask ales. Now when I say real cask ales you need to think of the CAMRA faithful, rather than hipsters and you won’t be far off the mark. Sadly, wherever I go that has a tap list on the wall it seems to be a recurring theme in my life that I much prefer what’s coming next rather than what’s on the bar now!

This was definitely the case on this occasion. Two from Marston’s, two from Black Sheep plus Saltaire Blonde. Now, if I were independent, and it is, I wouldn’t be having anything on from The Marston’s stable or from Black Sheep. I would be having all those on the ‘almost ready’ list though! Perhaps other people think the same and that’s why the Marston’s and Black Sheep gear were hanging about on the bar? I didn’t have Saltaire Blonde on the grounds that it is a decent ale I’ve supped before and in the interests of beery research I was going to try something I’d never had.


Believe it or not, I tried the Black Sheep Cascade Pale, a small batch special. The quality of the beer was very good. I’d score it 3.5 on NBSS. Regarding my personal thoughts on the very pale beer, I wasn’t so sure. If you’re going to do a single hop brew then for pity’s sake make sure it’s bang full of hops, this wasn’t. This conservative approach just seems to be a feature of many traditional brewers, almost a case of trying to jump on the band wagon then falling off before it gets going. Going back to the Tour de France, I remember a similar Black Sheep ale called Velo and suspect this beer may simply be a Velo variant or even the same thing by another name? Don’t tell me you don’t do this sort of thing brewers, because I know you do.

As well as the five cask ales there were three lagers, including Warsteiner and Brooklyn, some quality Gins and prices were reasonable, particularly the house wines by the bottle.

Now the toilets were quite quaint as there was a single urinal bowl and an unpartitioned toilet bowl in the same room . Although they easily passed my test with flying colours, this got me thinking about the point where a micro pub becomes a pub, because The Otley Tap House  was clearly large enough to enter into the small pub category? However, after consideration, it became apparent to me that one of the factors differentiating this is the existence of substantial and gender specific toilet facilities i.e. Gents with at least one trap and a couple of urinal bowls and Ladies with at least two closets. I therefore concluded it was by sole virtue of the toilet department that The Otley Tap House remains in the category of micro pub. A very good micro pub.

As a small market town, Otley is renowned for it’s number of pubs, quite a few of which are only fair to middlin’. The Otley Tap House is however, one that is definitely worth visiting.

2 replies »

  1. I sometimes wonder why people take a week to comment on my posts; then I realise I haven’t even read this one properly (got it mixed up with the Old Cock review).

    The Tap House isn’t in the Beer Guide this year, probably joining a fair few other Otley (only 2 entries) pubs there isn’t space to include. You know your beer Richard, I’ll take your view that the beer here is Beer Guide standard.

    Instinctively I’d like to attend the local branch GBG selection meeting to see how pubs are chosen. My experience so far is that quality rules, and that choice/pubbiness/other “stuff” affect Pub of the Year type awards. The Tap House has a very traditional looking beer range for a “micro”, but I like Black Sheep and Saltaire. Some folk would dismiss the pub on the basis of that range.



    • It seems that the selection is a little flawed to me, Leeds has an allocation of 30 pubs, end of story, so if something good comes along then something else has to go. I don’t know how (and when) it was decided how many slots each branch can have? There is obviously some criteria – branch size, geographical area, population? I need to find out exactly how it all works. I reckon there are more than 30 worthy pubs in Leeds area?

      Similarly, in accordance with my article in the current New Full Measure magazine, the number of active CAMRA members is woeful. Therefore a relatively small number of diehards nominate and vote for entries. This could mean that in a branch with a very traditional outlook, you will get a similar cohort of pubs being selected. It also depends on where the active members live and drink. For example in Leeds there are no pubs listed outside the North Eastern rim of the outer ring road and there are only a couple of active members, okay probably just me, living in the rural suburbs out here, yet the excellent Mews in Wetherby is deserving of inclusion in GBG. By the same token, I rarely get into any of the GBG listed pubs in the West of Leeds. The answer is I ought to, but why travel into the centre and out the other side when there are so many good pubs (and bars) in the city centre, so it works both ways. Often I have to abstain when voting for POTM, etc as I can’t vote either way if I’ve never been in!

      Liked by 1 person

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