THE festive season is almost with us. So be prepared for a plethora of Christmas ales appearing on the bar at the watering holes in our locality.

So, do you look forward to these seasonal beers making an appearance? I certainly do. However, so far, I have found little Christmassy beer to cheer the taste buds. Am I being too selective and fussy? Do I expect more complex ales? A beverage that is bursting with flavours such as candied peel, cinnamon, chocolate and dark fruits. Perhaps.

It is a fine balancing act for brewers as they strive to concoct a brew that will appeal to a wide audience of discerning beer drinkers throughout the month of December.

So, are there more tasty tipples out there this year? Only one way of finding out. So me and my beery amigo, Bob Fletcher, headed to the Beer Hall at Holmes Mill in Clitheroe, the home of the Bowland Brewery - and, I believe, the longest bar in the UK.

Crikey, this stunning and immaculately presented establishment houses over 40 hand pumps. Surely we could hunt down a few festive delights to tempt the ‘sophisticated’ palate in the run up to Christmas.

The Beer Hall is undeniably a gem of a drinking destination, with its magnificent circular bar offering the finest eclectic range of quality quaffs. And it didn’t take long for Messrs. Briggs and Fletcher to identify our first seasonal slurp.

Blitzen Blonde from the Dunscar Brewery in Bolton, was a smooth, robust, malt laden delight. Dark, stone fruit and a hint of spice was also detected. Certainly a Christmas cracker to recommend.

Another festive offering to recommend was Three French Hens, courtesy of Yorkshire brewer, Roosters. A rich amber ale, its 3. 9 per cent ABV had plenty of punch for a session beer. It boasted flavours of orange peel, cloves and a hint of cinnamon and was surprisingly spicy throughout for a low strength ale.

Bowland’s Christmas offering is Ale-Elujah. A robust, rich amber ale at 4.5 per cent ABV. Caramel malt, toffee and dried fruits are all detected. A lemony tang is lurking in the background and finish too. Definitely a Christmas beer. and one that has already been flying out at the Beer Hall and in other drinking dens in the area.

Staff member, Norman, said: “We will be offering 24 Christmas beers over the festive period.”

Wow, two dozen festive ales to choose from!

The Beer Hall certainly dispels my initial opinion of there possibly being a dearth of Christmas cheer. Offerings in the next two weeks include such names as: Cratchet’s Cracker; Rudolph’s Ruin; Scrooge’s Xmas Barrel; Christmas Cauldron and Santa’s Darkside. Names to surely get you into the spirit of Christmas.

The Beer Hall has been a resounding success since opening in early August. Production and General Manager, Craig Hall, said: “It’s amazing what has happened in such a short time here. The amount of investment that has been made is huge - especially in light of the current climate.”

We thoroughly enjoyed our festive ale fact-finding mission to the Bowland Brewery Beer Hall. No bah humbug detected here! Christmas beer cheer will certainly be in abundance . And I am confident it will be replicated elsewhere in the locality, as Christmas Day approaches.