IT HAS been quite a while since I visited a Samuel Smith’s hostelry.

So this week I decided to drop in at one of Colne’s traditional ale houses – possibly the oldest surviving pub in town, situated on the main thoroughfare, across from the market.

Walking into the pub is like a throwback to the days when I first frequenting boozers, 40 years ago. No music, no TV, no food – and no children.

Beer and conversation was the immediate impression in this old fashioned establishment.

The pub is divided into four rooms – all with their own individual character and charm.

The main bar area is impressive with its low-beamed ceiling, tiled flooring and L-shaped, oak-panelled bar. It was a bar totally surrounded by chatty regulars – I had to squeeze in to get served!

Adjacent, is a spacious room, also known as “God’s waiting room” by the regulars.

The bar extends into this area.

It’s a lovely, comfy place, with an open fire, soft leather, fixed bench seating and attractive miscellaneous articles dotted around. Oh, and it was well populated with friendly, talkative, elderly patrons too.

The pool room had fixed, high-backed, polished wooden seating around its perimeter. It looked superb, along with many pictures of old Colne adorning its walls.

The stained-glass leaded window also impressed – feature throughout the pub.

The off-room across from the bar was undoubtedly my favourite.

It was like my grandma’s old front room – comfy seated corner, adjacent to a stone fireplace, with coal-burning stove.

A well-stocked bookcase in the corner, along with some football memorabilia, made it a very homely environment – and where I decided to plonk myself down and partake of a pint.

Now, Sam Smith’s pubs stick with tradition. Fosters, Heineken etc are all barred.

They only flog their own beverages. Lager ,stout, bitter, mild – it all comes from the Tadcaster brewer.

Mind you the prices are rock bottom, with keg mild at £1.34 a pint and keg bitter at £1.60.

Thankfully, they had their cask brand, Old Brewery Bitter, on the bar, at just £1.80 a pint.

However, it was a disappointment in all fairness.

I was expecting a malty, fruity, light caramel flavoured slurp.

Sorry to say, those characteristics were sadly lacking. There was a hint of maltiness and some moderate bitter hop flavour, but it was a wishy-washy beverage in my opinion.

However, despite the below-par cask ale I sampled, it was a thoroughly enjoyable visit.

There was such a friendly buzz about the place. The many patrons in the pub were so welcoming and eager to converse with you.

The Red Lion is how a boozer should be. It’s where beer and conversation is paramount – a social meeting place, a real hub of the community.