Sunday, 15 January 2012

The Fleece, Otley

Otley's oldest pub - The Fleece on Westgate
With 2012 nearly a fortnight old and the Christmas/New Year period fast becoming a blurry memory, we headed to Otley for a frosty Sunday walk followed by some good food and a pint of ale. We had heard good things about the renovation of The Fleece by Wharfebank Brewery, which is located just down the river at Pool, so kicked the frozen mud off our boots and headed in.

Wharfebank have been meticulous in their renovation of the Fleece with a combination of traditional ( the snug) and new (open plan real fire). The snug, on your left as you enter from the front of the pub, is a no-nonsense drinking bar where you can take your dog but not your kids. The next thing that catches your eye is that real log fire in the middle of the main room. In this case open plan means you can see right through it. Next is the bar with at least six wickets, three Wharfebank ales and several guest beers. It would have been rude not to try the hosts offering, so we started with a nice bitter called VPA.

The pub offers local ales and local produce. The 'Winter Feeding Menu' looked original for pub grub with a wide range of food, starting at very cheap and ascending to around £11. There was also a distinctly Scottish feel to some of the dishes, in keeping with the barman's accent! The vegetarian haggis - 'Nae Bash & Mash' - arrived complete with a wee dram! All our food arrived on wooden platters or slate tablets. It was well presented and well received - particularly the 'fat chips', which were of epic proportions.

Time for the loo and the gents was, again, a mixture of traditional and modern. Functional and tasteful. [ - Dad's written that now, but at the time he was raving about those loos!]

A second pint was in order and this time we split up and tried a darker, less bitter brew called 'Camfell Flame' - very palatable - and 'Slingers Gold' - another lovely, smooth session beer from Wharfebank.

The one aspect of the Fleece that we were unable to sample was the beer garden overlooking the river Wharfe due to the subzero temperature. However we will be back in the spring to put that right!

The verdict - very happy indeed!
The Fleece is a cracking pub with friendly staff and superb beer. Let's hope it goes from strength-to-strength and in a few years those shiny new features will have a lovely, lived-in feel.

The Fleece's website:
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