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

The Flying Dutchman, across from the Town Hall in Padiham, boasts lots of history.

It was originally named after a thoroughbred racehorse, that won both The Derby and the St Ledger, in the mid-19th Century.

However, as you now look up at the signage outside the pub, you see a ship of the same name: A mythical ship, supposedly found drifting at sea, with no passengers or crew aboard — a ghost ship with just an eerie, ghostly silence.

Thankfully, it was anything but a ghostly silence as I entered this Thwaites owned, former coaching house. Friendly characters at the bar, and an affable chap behind the pumps, called Dave.

It’s quite a roomy, open-plan establishment, with a decent-sized bar area, pool room — and a comfy elevated social space, with soft furnishings. There’s an attractive beer garden, with impressive wooden decking and flower beds.

One slight negative was the corridor between the bar and the well-kept toilets. It was like a mini labyrinth andsomeone with dodgy eyes could end up taking a wrong turn — like I did.

Back in the bar I was met by the landlord, Lee Bailey. Lee had just celebrated his first year at ‘The Dutch’ and has appeared to have given the pub a more local and more community feel.

He said: “We now have karaoke, Friday and Saturday nights, and at Sunday tea-time. The beer garden is looking good, and we are selling a wider range of beers.

“There was only one cask ale on when I took over — and, to be honest, it wasn’t selling very well. However, we now have two pumps dispensing cask ale from the Thwaites Crafty Dan seasonal range. They are very popular, and it’s likely there will be a third cask ale soon, as demand increases.”

The two they had on when I visited were Magic Sponge and Louder Than 10 at £2.70 a pint. I went for the latter, a quite superb double IPA — double the normal strength and double the hops. It was malty sweet, packed with citrusy hops, which gave the ale bite, and a robust body. It was exceptional, and an ale to be respected at a whopping 6.5 per cent. You will always find the Crafty Dan range there. I highlight this as I noticed in the local CAMRA magazine, Witch Ale, that they had removed all Thwaites-tied pubs from the LocAle lists, which inform of local brews and their availability.

I can see their reason for the elimination, as Thwaites core beers are now brewed in Wolverhampton. However, there are Thwaites pubs like The Dutch that always have Blackburn brews on and I feel these hostelries had been unfairly penalised.

The Dutch is yet another boozer that gives a quality choice of local ales and good service.