YORK Brewery is toasting a very merry Christmas after opening its first pub in another city.

Mr Foley's Cask Ale House began trading six weeks ago at the former Pearl Assurance building, in The Headrow, in Leeds.

A huge range of ales, an interior brimming with character and a good location have seen the pub quickly established as a popular addition to Leeds' nightlife.

York Brewery runs three pubs in its home city.

Managing director Tony Thomson said: "We had no set plans to open a pub outside York. But this is a superb venue, and when it came on the market it was an opportunity too good to miss."

Previously owned by Isle of Man-based brewery Okells, the pub was closed for ten days for refurbishment. The bar has been improved and relit and now boasts ten hand pumps serving regular beers from both York and Leeds Breweries, as well as several guest ales.

The name comes from Patrick James Foley who founded Pearl Assurance in 1864 - his statue can be seen on the roof.

"There weren't enough pubs in Leeds city centre serving a range of great real ales. Mr Foley's will help to redress that," said Tony.

"We hope it'll soon be well known as the city's finest cask ale pub."

As well as the draught ale, the pub serves Grolsch Weizen wheat beer and 22 bottled ales from as far afield as Sweden, Peru and China.

The building, dating from 1911, was one of the first in Leeds to be built with Portland stone.

It sits opposite Leeds Town Hall and the art gallery, and is a short stroll from Millennium Square.

The split-level layout gives drinkers on the mezzanine a view of the bar, while the first floor rooms have already hosted lots of Christmas parties.

Pub manager Dean Pugh, 22, used to drink here when he was studying business studies at Leeds University.

He said: "In the New Year we are going to stage live music and comedy nights."

The pub provides a permanent Leeds outlet for York Brewery's award-winning ales, including Centurion's Ghost Ale, which was crowned the Best Strong Bitter at the Great British Beer Festival two years in a row.