I OFTEN hear beer aficionados lamenting the lack of real ale watering holes in Blackburn town centre.

Alas, this has been a fair and accurate assessment. In fact, I would describe the central area, with the exception of two or three beery destinations, devoid of cask ale choice.

However, the cask ale landscape changed somewhat with the opening of the town’s first micro-bar in late November of last year, a relatively small, one-room establishment, opened by husband and wife team James and Katy Quayle.

Situated on King William Street and just a short distance from King George’s Hall, it’s an unusual drinking den, but in an attractive and interesting way. Dark oak, old fashioned furnishings are a feature and there is a comfy corner close to the entrance, boasting two leather sofas offering an area of quiet repose.

Pub memorabilia adorns the walls and there is lots of attractive pub paraphernalia dotted all around the rear of the impressive solid oak bar.

Ah, did I mention the bar? Indeed I did. Five cask ales were on offer. And Katy, the joint-owner on serving duty, informed me that all ales were priced at £2.50 a pint, irrespective of strength, and all were initially offered to customers in a barrel glass.

Katy added: “All the beers are rotating and we love to support local microbreweries. Big Clock (Accrington), Hopstar (Darwen) and Three B’s (Blackburn) are regularly available.”

Indeed, that fine triumvirate of local brewers’ beers was available on my visit. Big Clock’s Brit Hop, was my first selection - a premium strength Pale Ale at 4.5%. It was a deliciously malty, fruity and moderately bitter hopped beer with a hint of spicy warmth and a fruity hopped finish. It was in exceptional condition.

Another ale sampled was the Hopstar Saaz Blonde, a continental pilsner style beer in my opinion.It was floral, citrusy and with a delicate bitterness - a delightful thirst quencher. A taste of Bohemia!

Finally, a beer I couldn’t resist. Three B’s, Stoker’s Slake. One of my favourite traditional, dark mild beers. How the heck does the brewer pack so much flavour into this beer? Roasted malt, smooth chocolate and dark, stone fruits in charge.

A Bob Bell belting beverage.

I really enjoyed identifying this oasis in a relatively cask ale desert.

The ales were in superb condition and it was a very relaxing and friendly environment too.

Both Katy and stepson, Ashley, were welcoming and affable hosts. A return visit very soon is planned to this gem of a drinking den.