ALE drinkers will descend on the Ribble Valley next week for a Lord of the Rings-inspired beer festival.

The Middle Earth Beer Festival has been organised and sponsored by The Aspinall Arms, in Mitton, and takes its name from the Ribble Valley’s location as the geographical centre of the UK.

Lord of the Rings author J R R Tolkien was believed to be a big fan of the Valley, and some of its location was the inspiration behind his books.

To celebrate the links, Grindleton Brewhouse will launch a special beer for the festival, called 1420.

Ian Lait, Grindleton’s head brewer, said: “As a child I loved reading J R R Tolkien and in his books 1420 holds a significant connection for beer.

“Because my family owned a pub the significance of ‘1420’ always stayed with me.

“This festival is the perfect opportunity to brew a local beer which celebrates the books and J R R Tolkien’s strong connection with the area.“ The festival will feature a range of beers from local breweries including Bowland Brewery, Copper Dragon, Heather, Tirrel and more.

Simon Forester, landlord at The Aspinall Arms, said: “J R R Tolkien was a frequent visitor to the Ribble Valley and his eldest son John studied at Stonyhurst College in Hurst Green.

“Whilst Tolkien was here, he loved walking and roamed the Ribble Valley area. The places he visited and their names often found their way into his books.

“Some believe that Hobbiton could actually be Hurst Green and that the River Shirebourne in the books was named after the Sherbourne family who built the Stonyhurst estate in Hurst Green.”

The three-day festival will take place from April 2 to April 4, at Hurst Green Village Hall, with live performances from local bands on all days.

For more information or tickets call The Aspinall Arms 01254 826223.