As always we were given a warm welcome by the landlord, and presented with a difficult choice of ales: There was Silver King Ale 4.3% from the Ossett Brewery in Yorkshire, Abbott Ale 5% from the Greene King brewery in Bury St Edmunds, and Bath Ales' Gem 4.1%.
The Gem was an amber ale and seemed a little too sweet for some of us. The Silver King is a lager-style golden ale which found more general approval among us, except for Tall Paul who, of course, stuck to his preferred Guinness (and reported that it wasn't quite up to scratch).
The Brewery Bar is a funny sort of place. On the face of it, it has so many things about it that we disapprove of (Sports TV on continuously with the sound turned down, fruit machines, pool table, etc) that we would normally avoid such a place, but they always seem to serve an interesting range of beers from around the country, and their pies are among the best available anywhere. Today's pie was a Steak & Guinness Pie, served up as 2 pies, to be shared between 8 hungry gentlemen.
The pies came with a bowl of assorted vegetables (carrots, broccolli, caulifower) which had been freshly cooked to perfection (au point, as someone said).
And we had lashings of chips, which were also freshly cooked and done to perfection.
The gravy was served separately, in jugs, just the way it should be, and the end result was a lovely plateful.
The pie was as near perfect as could be: tasty short crust pastry enclosing tender pieces of lean steak in a rich gravy, with a few whole mushrooms, and a definite hint of Guinness. Most us us didn't have any room for a pudding, but a few of us managed to try some, and found that they were very good:
Once again we found that the ambience of the pub was good. It's clean, tidy, and the service was excellent. Our final bill for the food and 4 rounds of drinks came to £28 each, including service, which we thought very good value for money (The pies were £8.95 each, puddings £4.75 each, ale £3.50/pint).
Scores for The Brewery Bar, Botley (Max 5 in each category - total 25 overall)
Pastry - 4.69
Filling - 4.54
Beer - 3.91
Ambience - 3.85
Value - 4.54
Overall - 21.54
This was another excellent afternoon - a nice traditional pub with attentive staff, good beer, and another exceptional pie. For The Brewery Bar this score represents a significant improvement over their 2012 score (which was 20.5, and still not a bad score), and puts them straight into first place in our rankings of pubs visited so far this year, and is actually the 3rd highest score achieved by any pub that we have ever visited (beaten only by The Wheatsheaf and The Brickmakers in 2012). So, well done to the Brewery Bar!
On our return to Bishops Waltham we adjourned to The Barleycorn to take advantage of their happy hour, which seems to last all afternoon.