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

I Feel it is appropriate this week to swerve the weekly pub review, in order to highlight half a dozen of my favourite reviewed boozers for 2013.

It has been a proper head-scratching job, as the locality is blessed with many fine watering holes.

So, what I've attempted to do, is name a ‘favourite pub’ in various areas of East Lancashire.

We commence the beery tour on the Lancs/Yorks border. Our first destination being the Polished Knob in Todmorden. It ticked all the boxes for me — the full monty. Friendly clientele, good atmosphere, excellent range of locally-sourced ales and ideally situated across from the bus station. First class service guaranteed at this traditional boozer.

The “favourites tour” now meanders through the spectacular Cliviger Gorge and stops off at the award-winning Bridge Bier Huis in Burnley. It really is beer heaven at The Bridge. Cask ales, foreign draught lagers and a superb selection of bottled beers from around the world.

A warm welcome always (including Ruby, the labrador), at this town centre pub. They are passionate about their beers and the service they provide to their customers — mainly beers from the local area. The ale is always in tip-top nick. An ale house not to be missed, when in the area.

Next port of call is to, arguably, the most improved pub in the area. The Hare and Hounds in Padiham has been transformed in the last 12 months. Once an ailing establishment, it is now thriving under new ownership. Six cask ales are available, a hand-pulled cider — and there have already been two successful beer festivals, at this most welcoming of hostelries. Stef and Laura take a bow.

The Ribble Valley is next and the New Inn at Clitheroe, in the shadow of the castle is, in my opinion, one supreme drinking-den. Ten cask ales from local brewers and ever-changing too. I loved this quirky, traditional pub, with its narrow corridor, old-fashioned rooms and small bar area — certainly no ‘smooth-flow’ ales available here.

Well, two to go, and I move across to the Accrington area. This was undoubtably the most difficult. Hyndburn, quite simply, has many cracking boozers. Contemporary or traditional, I could have named many fine pubs.

However, the two I have chosen are the Peel Park and Grant’s Bar. One traditional and one contemporary.

Firstly, the Peel Park is traditional, warm and friendly — a hidden gem of a pub, opposite the site of the former Accrington Stanley football ground. It was boarded-up and vandalised 10 years ago. Thankfully, David and Sue Johnson purchased it and it’s now one of the most popular in the area, serving six cask ales, in a most comfy and welcoming environment.

Finally, we arrive at Grant's Bar. A modern establishment of the highest standard, offering a superb range of eight local beers. Another pub saved, this time by Justin Grant. Lots of spacious, comfy areas to enjoy their fine ales — and soon to boast its own microbrewery — inside the pub.

So, there are my favourite, super-six reviewed pubs of 2013.

But, to be honest, I have enjoyed all of my weekly,beery jaunts this year. And will no doubt enjoy many more in 2014 — and you will be the first to hear about them, Merry Christmas.