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 adventures in ale at his blog or follow him on Twitter @realaleupnorth

My first beery venture of 2014 leads me to a traditional community boozer in the Ribble Valley.

Clitheroe was the destination and to a pub I had not visited before.

The Horseshoe Inn has been quite a success story since it was bought in June 2008 by Lisa Evans and Gary Madden. In fact, it only took them 10 months to land their first accolade, when East Lancs CAMRA voted it their ‘Pub of the Season’ in the winter of 2008/09.

As you walk in, you get a proper local pub feel, with its wood floor and attractive old-fashioned wood panelled bar. The main lounge area is most impressive, with its beamed ceiling, dark oak panelling and inscribed frosted glass windows. And there’s an array of framed pictures adorning the white painted walls, along with other nice, ornate decorations. There’s lots of cosy seated areas in the pub, and it makes it a warm, comforting and sociable environment .

Adjacent to the main bar area is a pool room, with access to the beer garden, which provides a sheltered smoking area and television — customers are certainly well provided for here.

But, of course, the main reason for my visit was the ale. The Horseshoe has been in the CAMRA Good Beer Guide since 2010, and there is a selection of four cask ales. Two are regular — Bowland's Sawley Tempted and Deuchars IPA — and two other are ever changing cask ales.

There was an excellent guest ale on. The Lancaster Black was not to be missed. A traditional, creamy stout, with bags of chocolate and coffee notes. It was in superb nick — slid down a treat.

I had two drinking compatriots with me on this visit, Bob and Gareth. Bob likes his dark ales, and concurred with my stout selection. Gareth went for the pub's best seller and local brew, Bowland's Sawley Tempted — a smooth, fruity and easy drinking ale, with a subtle spice aftertaste.

The cask ales at this fine watering hole, are good value too, as well as being in excellent condition. Just £2.35 for three of the casks, with the Deuchars IPA, a more than reasonable, £2.50.

For Guinness drinkers, you won’t find a boozer with a better pulled pint of the black stuff. The Horseshoe has recently landed an award from the Irish brewer for pulling the perfect pint.

I thoroughly enjoyed my first visit to this popular, friendly and welcoming ale house - and so did Bob and Gareth. Lisa and Gary run a fine pub, with a nice clientele. I look forward to my next visit.