We agreed that in future our annual award for excellence would be "The Pie Club Pub of the Year" rather than "The Pie of the Year". This is a more accurate reflection of the fact that our award is based not just on the quality of the pie, but also on the overall experience of the pub visit.
We then went on to consider which pub should receive this coveted award for 2014. Here are the scores for each of the pubs that we visited this year:
- The Black Dog, Waltham Chase (27/11/2014): 22.34
- The Bucks Head, Meonstoke (25/09/2014): 22.32
- The Kings Head, Hursley (29/05/2014): 21.59
- The Brewery Bar, Botley (24/04/2014): 21.54
- The Ship Inn, Owslebury (23/01/2014): 21.13
- The Rising Sun, Swanmore (30/10/2014): 21.07
- The Hampshire Bowman, Dundridge (26/06/2014): 20.70
- The Queen Inn, Winchester (24/07/2014): 20.58
- The Brickmakers, Swanmore (27/03/2014): 19.98
- The Hurdles, Droxford (28/08/2014): 19.20
It was a very close contest, with the Black Dog in Waltham Chase winning by a very narrow margin. Our hearts go out to Nicki and Shaun at The Bucks Head, who must have thought that with their bold imaginative move of serving us 2 pies each they had the award in the bag, and perhaps in any other year they would have won, but they were just pipped at the post by Peter and Kathy at the Black Dog with their equally bold and innovative idea of offering us a Sausage, Bacon & Black Pudding Pie. Commiserations are due to all the other venues - there were no bad pies here, and everyone did very well.
Congratulations to Peter and Sally at The Black Dog for a well-deserved win. We are looking forward to our next visit to The Black Dog, in March, when we will present the award.
Now on to more important matters. While we were deliberating over our AGM, we were well assisted by the excellent range of beers which were available:
We found that these ales were a great help in our decision making. Meanwhile, Sally had prepared a special Steak & Kidney Pie for us. When it was brought out for us there was a moment of respectful silence followed by a buzz of appreciation as we saw just how good it was.
We helped ourselves. Made with short crust pastry, and served with perfectly cooked carrots, brocolli and new potatoes, with a jug of gravy on the side, this was as near perfect as a pie can possibly be.
The end result was inevitable - a full set of empty plates and very happy gentlemen:
To use our usual methods to evaluate this experience would be an insult to all concerned. This experience is sublime. It is beyond evaluation. Suffice to say, this pub will continue to be the spiritual home of the Pie Club, and sets the standard by which all other pubs are measured. We are looking forward to our next visit to The Wheatsheaf, which will probably be in December for our next AGM, unless we can think of some excuse for not waiting as long as that.