THIS week I wish to highlight the growth of the locality's micro pubs - an alternative type of drinking destination, usually a small free house, devoid of musical entertainment, Sky TV, fizzy lager and gaming machines. It's a social hub where conversation is paramount.

These type of establishments appear to be opening in most of our local towns - and it leads me to believe that our social drinking habits could be changing.

I visited one such watering hole, the Craft and Keg, last week in Colne. It is situated across from Pendle Hippodrome. However, what was more noticeable about its location, was that it was next door to another micro-pub, Boyce's Barrel.

Crikey, Colne appears to be leading the way in the march of the micros. The latest addition is a contemporary micro-bar, offering three cask ales (soon to be five) and a real cider.

It was doing brisk business last Friday night. There was a very relaxed environment and lots of chit-chat and friendly banter from an eclectic mix of patrons.

The Craft and Keg provided an alternative drinking experience to the award-winning, Boyce's Barrel, which is a quirky, old fashioned and more traditional type of bar. A bar that has quickly forged an excellent reputation. So much so, it is presently Pendle CAMRA's Pub of the Year.

You don't have to travel far for more of the micro-pub experience in Pendle. Bankers Draft, in nearby Barrowford, offers a good range of cask ales, in tranquil surroundings. Whilst Barnoldswick boasts the Barlick Tap Ale House, a popular and relative new bar, serving five rotating ales.

Over in Chorley there is more evidence of the growing popularity of these small drinking dens. Shepherds' Hall Ale House, a former florists, scooped Central Lancs. CAMRA's top award only last month.

The family run, town centre establishment, has been open less than 18 months and serves five cask ales and three real ciders. Pickled eggs and locally produced pies are a speciality.

Arguably, my favourite micro-bar is the Ale House in Clitheroe town centre.A superb range of cask ales sourced from local microbreweries. A fine drinking experience, no argument.

So, is this burgeoning sector of the pub industry set to continue? Will it reach a saturation point? Presently, the march of the micros shows no sign of moving down the gears.

Personally, I feel the growth is set to continue. The business concept is a simple one. Low running costs compared to a traditional pub. They have limited opening hours. And ales are sourced from microbreweries, usually local, which means they can charge less for their beer - although some don't.

I will no doubt be reviewing a few micro-pubs over the coming months. Trying to identify their appeal in more detail. I know of at least three in the locality that will be opening their doors shortly.

It's no doubt going to be a selection headache to look forward to - cheers!