BREWERS big and small have moved swiftly to head off fears that fracking could ruin the taste of East Lancashire drinkers’ pints.

They are confident even if the controversial drilling for shale gas does come to the area, it will not leave a bitter taste in ale lovers’ mouths.

After Friends of the Earth backed the concerns of German brewers, Blackburn’s Thwaites and Burnley microbrewers Moonstone pledged they could deal with potential problems.

FoE’s North-West campaigner Helen Rimmer said: “Fracking poses a number of threats to our environment, and brewers are right to be concerned about the impact on water quality “Beer makers in Germany are fiercely opposed to the practice, arguing that their products may be seriously tainted.”

Caudrilla, the company test drilling in West Lancashire, stressed its commitment to wellhead integrity ensuring groundwater is not contaminated.

The fears centre on the process releasing chemicals, gases and other impurites into watercourses, particularly affecting brewers who get their own water from boreholes.

Thwaites have a dedicated well at their current Star brewery and plan another using the same water source when the company moves to Mellor Brook in two years time.

Other local brewers, including Moorhouses in Burnley, Moonstone and Three Bs in Darwen use treated mains water.

Last year a British Geological Survey identified the M65 corridor north of Blackburn through Burnley to Colne and the Rossendale Valley as sitting on shale gas reserves.

Thwaites managing director Steve Magnall said: “We are aware of the discussions taking place around fracking and potential environmental effects.

“With a borehole at a brewery, the water goes through a filter system, whereby all the salts and other minerals are stripped out, leaving pure water.

“It is a tried and tested technology. Any contamination at groundwater level would, via suitable filtration, be safe and potable.

“We would like to put a borehole in at Mellor Brook and would have the systems in place.”

Mick Jacques of Moonstone on Trafalgar Street, said: “We use mains water and we’re not aware fracking is going to be a problem for us.

“We treat our water carefully and could preserve the taste if any possible problem occurred.”

A Cuadrilla spokesman said: “The well pads and wells themselves have been designed so that leaks or spills do not enter the wider environment (the soil, groundwater, surface water or atmosphere) and lead to contamination.”