TO BE perfectly honest, I wasn’t expecting too much from this week’s beery venture. The reason being that a trip to Blackburn town centre limits your selection of decent drinking dens – in my humble opinion.

The Blackburn Times hostelry was my destination.


As the name suggests, it was the former home of one of the town’s newspapers.

Sadly, the rattle of the printing machines are long gone. And now this imposing structure, adjacent to the King George’s Hall, is one of many discount drinking dens owned by Amber Taverns.

I have visited a few of the boozers in the Amber Taverns stable – pubs that are always sensitively renovated to a high standard. And this spacious, split-level, one-roomed “tavern” was no exception.

A fine mosaic tiled floor greets you, with two cosy seated areas flanked on either side. Steps then elevate you to the main and roomy bar area.

Here, you will find an option of places to plonk yourself down as it boasts lots of soft upholstered furnishings. This includes dimpled leather, fixed bench seating, around most of the perimeter (watch out for the gentle slope after a couple of strong ales).

The place was quite busy for a Monday afternoon. A mix of colourful and chatty characters, taking advantage of the keg beverages – mostly at under two quid a pint.

However, it was pleasing to witness the keg-quaffing clientele was watered down by one or two cask ale slurpers around the crowded bar.

Three cask ale pumps but, only one dispensing. Fear not, the powerhouse that is Thwaites 13 Guns was on offer – and at £1.90 a pint! A well-rounded mouthfeel, weighing in at 5.5%. It’s a tangy, citrus flavoured, tongue puckering delight – and was in great nick, served up by Lisa, a pleasant and helpful staff member who has been pulling the pumps here for two years.

Paul Crook, the manager, said: “Before the refurbishment in August 2014 there were no cask ales as the “smooth flow” beers and lagers were the best sellers – and still are.

“However, there is now a steadily increasing demand for cask. We nearly always have three on and almost sold out on Saturday night. The demand for the three ales on offer was unbelievable - it was our Northern Soul night.”

It’s fair to say that most would describe this establishment as a sports bar, with its ten TV screens dotted around the place. Mind you, it was interspersed with many interesting pictures of the town’s industrial and footballing past - and that is always good to see.

In conclusion, I was pleasantly surprised with this friendly and welcoming venue. It’s good to witness, from my perspective, that there is another town centre pub flogging cask ale - and for less than a two quid coin of the realm.

Okay, some of the CAMRA militants may have moaned at the ale selection on this occasion – but hey-ho, let’s celebrate an addition to a restricted, town centre real ale trail.

Let’s raise a glass to Amber Taverns. Another well presented, down-to-earth and unpretentious value boozer.