THE smell of malted barley was in the air as both me and beery compatriot Bob Fletcher approached this week’s selection for the pub review.

The Griffin Inn could quite easily be described as a beer utopia. The reason being everything that typifies quality brewing and the desire for tasty beer, is all here on one site.

You see, as well as a traditional real ale pub – it's also the home of the Rossendale Brewery – a 'brewpub'. This being the commonly used term to describe this type of beery enterprise.

It's an old fashioned establishment with low beamed ceilings, dark oak furnishings, open fires and ornate decorations. It boasts a spacious, comfy lounge, games room and a small but, adequate bar area.

The pub has been owned by Geoff and Cangui Oliver for seven years. They also own the Sportsman in Hyde. All the range from the Rossendale Brewery, seven in total, were on offer at the bar. Wow, what a selection – this is what you call a 'brewery tap'.

Michelle, behind the bar, was keen to help us select our beverage. I went for the refreshing, flavoursome, hoppy slurp, Halo Pale at 4.5% It had bags of body for an average strength brew.

It tasted a tad stronger in my opinion, but no complaints from me, it was delicious and in great condition.

Robert, was in his more traditional mode, and plumped for the Glen Top Bitter, at 4%. He was equally impressed with the taste and condition.

There was half a dozen regulars around the L-shaped bar. What a friendly bunch they were.

Lots of banter and talk of how they enjoyed the favourable atmosphere and environment of this hostelry. Michelle said: "There's always plenty going on to keep the customers happy. We have a men's and women's darts team. Quiz night is Wednesday. Thursday is popular, with the £2 curry night. Saturday there's live entertainment – and not forgetting the value of our excellent ales, seven days a week, that range from £2.10 to 2.60 a pint."

Of course, these ales are brewed underneath the pub, and Michelle kindly offered me the opportunity to go down and meet the brewer, Leonie Knights.

Michelle said: “Leonie, used to work behind the bar. However, when the original brewer left two years ago, Leonie expressed an interest in brewing. So, Geoff the owner, taught her all there was to know about the brewing process."

Before I entered the brewery, I witnessed local farmers David and Betty Bond from Green Howarth collecting the used grain. They were piling it into their trailer. Betty said: "We use the spent grain for cattle feed. Oh, and I enjoy reading your pub review every week." Cheers, Betty.

The brewhouse was in full production. The malty aromas were delightful and I got a first hand tour and insight from both Leonie and Mike, who sells and delivers their fine ales.

They gave you an immediate impression of their passion for the beers they brew. The both of them couldn't have been more helpful in answering my questions - and there’s usually a few from this talkative reporter.

Back inside the pub I have to say we were a tad reluctant to leave this splendid environment. It had been a most joyous experience of hospitality, warmth and fine ale tasting. Aye, beer utopia ain't far off the mark – it's a must visit.