Today marks the start of a much anticipated three day celebration of beer. Yes, the 16th Pendle Beer Festival opens its doors at Colne Municipal Hall, at 11.30am.

It's a superbly organised event, courtesy of a dedicated band of volunteers from the East Lancashire branch of CAMRA.

The festival is certainly one of the highlights in the Pendle social calendar, where a multitude of discerning beer drinkers will throng to this excellent venue, to slake their thirst, among the many friendly and sociable attendees.

The organisers have sourced over a 100 real ales from the length and breadth of the nation. Ales from the Scottish Highlands to Cornwall, Suffolk to Conwy. There's an eclectic range of styles to satisfy the most demanding palate.

Also, for the first time at the festival, there will be a gin and Prosecco bar in addition to the usual fine range of real ciders and perries. Plus a dedicated area that will be dispensing a tasty selection of 10 KeyKeg craft beers.

Well, I am pretty confident in saying that the diverse choice of real ales will be the most popular of beverages to hunt down - and it is always a welcome dilemma to have, when there is a first-class beer menu presented to you.

So, after studying the lengthy list of ales on offer; allow me to recommend to you, just a small selection of the beers that will be on my hit list.

My first port of call will be to sample a barrel-aged, dark ruby mild, Fine Fettle, from Northern Whisper (4.6%). The ale was a collaboration beer I created with the head brewer, Carmelo Pillitteri, five months ago. We thought ageing this robust mild in an oak whisky cask, in time for the festival, would be ideal. Hopefully, it will have given it even more depth in flavour. In addition to some wood notes, extra warmth and mellowness in the finish.

Fine Fettle pours a dark ruby colour. Caramel, chocolate and dark berry fruits in the aroma. Complex flavours of coffee, caramel, chocolate, blackberry and hint of smoke balance well. Smooth, well rounded mouth feel leads to a dry, bittersweet finish with

chocolate, caramel and some lingering spicy warmth. I hope you will sample some.

Another unmissable beer will be Titanic's Plum Porter Grand Reserve (6.5%). Deep ruby red in colour. Rich, dark fruit aroma leads to rich plum and subtle blackcurrant notes. Some grainy chocolate lurking too. Dry, fruity, bittersweet finish. Full-bodied fruity excellence. To be sipped not supped, as it is deceptively strong! Superb.

Third choice on the sampling list is from the Cairngorm brewery in Inverness. Trade Winds (4.3%) is a pale ale that is light golden in presentation. It has a good dose of wheat giving the beer a crisp, fresh flavour. Citrus and floral notes dominate this beer. Former Champion Beer of Scotland.

A robust IPA from the Snowdon brewery in Conwy, is one that caught my eye. Summit Blonde IPA (5.2%) is described as a complex flavoured pale ale. Mandarina Bavarian, Summit, Idaho 7 and Pacific hops gives the beer juicy tangerine, pink grapefruit and lemon flavours. One for the hopheads to hunt down!

My final selection is from the excellent Hop Back brewery in Wiltshire. If their Winter Lightning (5.5%) strong bitter, is comparable in quality to their multi award-winning Summer Lightning golden ale - it will surely hit the spot. Described as lightly spiced, deceptively strong and drinkable.

Pendle Beer Festival opens its doors from 11.30am to 11pm on all three days of this much anticipated festival. Entry to all sessions is £3. Card carrying CAMRA members are entitled to free entry. Live entertainment on Friday night and throughout Saturday.

Approximately 2,000 people visited the festival last year. I am sure it will once again prove a most enjoyable social and drinking experience. Cheers...