Mark Briggs has been a real ale connoisseur for over 35 years. A self-professed ‘beer geek’, Mark visits East Lancashire’s pubs for his weekly column. Read of Mark’s straight talking views on ale at his website or follow him on Twitter @realaleupnorth

This week I arrive at a former Methodist church in Burnley town centre, ideally situated across from the town's bus station.

Now you may think it's rather odd that a former Methodist place of worship is now serving alcoholic beverages and that John Wesley would no doubt be spinning in his grave at the thought of this historic building, now being a popular watering hole.

However, the present owners Kris and Sarah appear to be doing a good job in running this establishment as a welcoming, friendly town centre ale house.

Built in 1853, it still looks like a place of worship from the outside and the stone inlay above the entrance confirms its date of origin in Roman numerals.

It still has an old-fashioned feel on entry, with its wood floors and an attractive tiled area in front of the bar. The pub is one open spaced area,quite small, but has plenty of room to congregate in front of the L-shaped bar. It also boasts comfy private areas either side of the entrance — but the pews are long gone.

There was a good selection of real ales and lagers on the bar (my prayers had been answered) with three cask beers and four lagers available. I plumped for a favourite cask ale, Bank Top Flat Cap — a malty smooth, fruity delight, in excellent condition — and at two quid a pint, a bargain. The lagers range from £2.20 to £2.40.

Owner Sarah was serving behind the bar and said: “We serve mainly locally-sourced ales. Reedley Hallows, the Burnley brewer and Bank Top from Bolton, are our best-selling casks, and are regularly on the bar.

“We have been here six years now and love running the place. We get mostly more mature customers here. The pub is ideally situated, close to the centre and next to the bus station. We get lots of people who pop-in for a drink before their onward bus journey."

There were certainly one or two characters in this friendly hostelry. One regular, Ian, was keen to explain the history of the pub.

He said: “The word Jireh' in the stone inlay over the entrance, is a Baptist word, meaning “The Lord will provide”. Well, he was certainly providing some fine ale, and I was soon slurping another classy beer. Copper Dragon's Golden Pippin was 'the holy water'. Another beverage in tip-top condition.

The pub was getting quite busy for an early Monday afternoon and Sarah was coping most efficiently with the increasing demand for her beers. I was particularly impressed with her knowing what most of them would be having to drink before they ordered.

Yes, there was certainly a nice, friendly atmosphere at this Grade II Listed boozer. And I enjoyed my visit. Sarah was a most friendly, efficient and courteous host - and displayed excellent interaction with her customers.

I would certainly recommend Bootleggers. A fine range of beers, excellent value, friendly customers, and a most affable host.

Hallelujah, praise The Lord .