Blackburn is generally deemed to be one of those centres in decline for discerning ale drinkers. Perhaps one could call it a real ale "desert"!
So, I felt obliged to take up a beery town centre challenge in Blackburn, and head towards Zy Bar, situated close to the Cathedral, on Market Street Lane. One of only four or five surviving watering holes, that dispense cask ale.
To be honest, I didn't know what to expect, as I walked through the door. As I was met with flashing disco lights, a cheery DJ and sounds of the eighties. It all seemed a little surreal - at two o' clock, on a Tuesday afternoon.
Formerly the "Dun Horse", Zy Bar offers quite a roomy, L-shaped, open plan main lounge area, with wooden floor, open fireplace and fixed benched seating. Along with an adequate number of comfy stools. Thankfully, it also boasted an impressive snug type room. Here, you can chill out on the leather settees, away from the more contemporary theme of this establishment.
There was just the one cask ale on offer. However, it was a good 'un. Lytham Gold was on. It's a malty, refreshing and lightly hopped ale. It was in excellent nick and set me back just 'thirty bob'- or £1.50 for the younger generation. It was a special offer on Tuesday - as opposed to £1.90 normally.
Faye, behind the bar said: "We have had cask ale on now for two years. It's ever changing and popular. Thwaites cask ales go down well. However, their keg "Original" is still the best selling ale. Fosters is our best selling lager, at £2.50. "
The disco from 2 till 7,was getting into full swing. Martin, the DJ, was quite a character, and was reminding the customers that the Karaoke and Play Your Cards Right, will be starting soon. All very surreal, for me - on a Tuesday afternoon.
However, this innovative afternoons entertainment was certainly working. As the pub was now quite busy. Faye, said: "It will be very busy by four or five. Friday and Saturday night is packed out, for the disco - the customers love it. Sunday is similar, when we have the bingo and Play Your Cards Right."
This town centre free house is to be admired. It has a no frills business model
that is clearly working. A cheap and cheerful policy, that is offering its patrons a good range of regular entertainment and value beverages - long may it continue.
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