This is the sort of place that you’d be really interested in if you were a hardened GBG pub ticker. It’s not in the guide yet, but it’s got a strong support from local beer drinkers, and it’s already been accoladed with the Leeds CAMRA Pub Of The Month award for December 2017, and it’s only been trading under the current management for a year or so. I believe the booking.com, on hands and knees to a closed micropub 5 miles from anywhere die hards call it a ‘pre-emptive strike’.
Morley isn’t the sort of place where you’d expect a craft beer bar? Neither would you expect it to be a brewing hot spot, but it is and there are two thriving micro-breweries in the town. One of them, Frisky Bear, is in the basement of Oscars at the bottom of Queen Street.
Although the property has been converted into a bar for a few years now, the present owner Carl Saint has been running the bar for 14 months and brewing, on his 1.5 BBL kit, in the cellar for the past 12 months. Before that, he’d been brewing in his garage.
Carl employs several bar staff, but when I called in I was lucky enough to find him behind the bar. It was only 5.30pm on a Wednesday evening and I was quite surprised to find half a dozen folk and a dog in the bar. As time went by, more people, and more dogs called in. I worked in Morley for a couple of years and know what sort of people they are round here, honest and friendly. Carl’s customers were no exception, although he told me he had a good following of regulars who travelled from all over the city.
The bar is furnished in minimalistic style, but it’s pleasant and comfortable, with several tables, chairs and a narrow, ledge style table running along the front window. There’s an old school white-board on one wall showing details of the six keg and two cask lines, plus the real ciders and other drinks promotions. On the opposite wall is another board telling customers which beers Frisky Bear have currently got in their three fermenting vessels downstairs.
Carl told me he always tries to have 2 or 3 of his own beers on at any one time. I was quite (pleasantly) surprised with the progressive brewers and styles OTB. The selection is probably unique in Morley. Carl reckoned the only place that came close was Wetherspoon’s Picture House further up Queen St. Personally, I don’t think ‘spoon’s craft offerings come anywhere near what Carl had on. There’s also a decent bottle fridge and craft spirits.
I asked Carl what he would call Oscar’s? A bar a micro? He, rightly, termed it a Brewery Tap, Brew Pub, Micropub, then said, ‘You can call it what you want really.’
I get what he meant. It might be a micropub with it’s single, but top quality, unisex toilets, and closed on Monday, not open till 5pm during the week hours. But it’s not your typical micro though. It’s more like a proper bar. But as Carl say’s, there’s a brewery downstairs.
I asked him what he thought about receiving the Leeds CAMRA Pub Of The Month for December award? Carl said he was surprised to be nominated, and even more surprised when he won it!
I don’t think he should be surprised at all. I think it’s a worthy winner and representative of where the beer scene in Leeds is going, spreading out into the suburbs, providing a bit of something for everyone, all underlined with a big Q for quality. There’s even a glass rinser and every glass is carefully dried before being presented to the customer.
The prices were decent too, £3.30 a pint for the cask ales and between £4.20 and £4.90 for the keg beers. I tried an excellent Frisky Bear Sautéed Brake Disc – American Stout (4.3%) jet black and very drinkable and a nice one from 360’ – Session IPA, both from kegs.
It’s dead handy to get to as well, the regular bus service (51 & 52) from Leeds City centre stops virtually outside the bar, just watch yourself crossing the very busy four-way junction in front of the pub.
If you’ve not visited yet then I’d give it a try, you’ll be glad you did.