Monday, 29 October 2018

The Brickmakers Arms, Swanmore - 25th October 2018

Kevin kindly organised a visit to The Brickmakers Arms and we all enjoyed it.

The charming manageress, Selena,  offered us a choice of 4 ales, which we all found to be very acceptable.

There was a choice of 2 pies: Chicken & Tomato (chosen by 2 of us), or Steak Stout & Stilton (chosen by the rest of us). Both came with Mashed Potato and Mixed Vegetables.
The Chicken & Tomato looked like this:

The Steak Stout & Stilton looked like this:

We liked both pies. There was a range of puddings available:

The Chocolate Brownie looked good.

The pies were £13.50, and the ales were around £3.80/pint. Good value for money, and a very commendable effort.

Scores (max of 5 in each category, 25 overall)
  • Pastry         4.62
  • Filling        4.68
  • Beer           4.73
  • Ambience  4.42
  • Value         4.67
  • Total        23.12
Thank you to everyone at the Brickmakers Arms for their hospitality and thank you to Kevin for organising it.

Monday, 8 October 2018

The Square Cow, Wickham - 27th September 2018

This venue had previously been the Wickham Wine Bar and was opened as a pub earlier this year, so as it is local and a new pub we thought we should try out their pie offering.
So we arrived in Wickham by bus with some of our more energetic friends walking part of the way and then joining us on the bus.

We were very pleased to find 3 beers on tap from one of our favourite local breweries, Bowman Ales:
Yumi - 3.9%, Meon Valley Bitter - 3.9% and Quiver - 4.3%. So we set to the beers while awaiting the pie to be cooked.

The pie was a Steak and Guinness homemade pie which had been prepared as one large pie to serve all of us. This type of pie is always our preference as you get less pastry but more filling!

The pie was served with chips or mash and a good selection of vegetables.

The concensus was that the pastry was good but the meat in the filling was a little tough and would maybe had benefited from longer cooking. However, they were polished off and we then contemplated  a fine selection of desserts.

The selection was so tempting and most of us opted for a dessert. We then had time to kill before the next bus back to Bishops Waltham so what else could we do but have another beer!
We all got the bus back with no one electing to walk, surprise, surprise!

Scores (max of 5 in each category, 25 overall)
  • Pastry         4.32
  • Filling        3.64
  • Beer           4.76
  • Ambience  4.56
  • Value         4.48
  • Total        21.76
Thank you to everyone at the Square Cow for their hospitality and a most enjoyable lunch.

Monday, 6 August 2018

The Cricketers - Curdridge - 26 July 2018

On one of the hottest days of a very hot summer, the dedicated walkers set off from Bishops Waltham to walk part of the way to Curdridge, the more sensible ones took the bus or arrived by car!

On arrival there were two real ales on offer, Greene King Barmey Army - 3.7% and Greene King Yard Bird - 4%. Unfortunately, neither of the beers were in great shape, which could well have been due to the extreme weather conditions, but all was not lost as the Czech lager was tasty and refreshingly chilled as was the Guinness.

Originally, the chef had proposed to make one large steak and kidney pie to serve us all, but as there were 11 of us he had decided to opt for individual steak and ale pies.
This was a good decision as the pies were  excellent with good shortcrust pastry and loads of filling.

It was accompanied by a very good selection of vegetables and separate gravy on the side..........,, the cauliflower cheese being very tasty.

One of our group did have room for a pudding, but as he was one of the walkers this was totally understandable.
After moving outside to finish off our beers we headed back to Bishops Waltham,, by cars and bus!
Scores (max of 5 in each category, 25 overall)
  • Pastry          4.75
  • Filling         4.70
  • Beer            3.38
  • Ambience   4.11
  • Value          4.33
  • Total        21.27
Thanks to everyone at the Cricketers for their hospitality and a most enjoyable pie.

Thursday, 5 July 2018

The Brushmakers, Upham, 28th June 2018

We had visited this excellent pub in Upham on two previous occasions and as it is ideal to include a summer walk, five of us set off from Bishops Waltham on an extremely hot day. The walk is approximately 3.5 miles along farm tracks, country lanes and through woodland, which gave us much welcomed shade. On arrival we met up with the other two from our group who had decided not to brave the hot conditions.

Needing refreshment after the walk we were pleased to find 4 beers to choose from on handpump:
Flack Manor Double Drop -3.7%, Bowman Yumi - 3.9%, Upham Punter - 4% and Cheriton Pots Goodens Gold - 4.8%.

We started with the lower gravity beers which were in very good condition and the perfect temperature for a hot day ( a good cellar).

The pie on offer was to be a surprise and we were delighted to find out that it was to be a Rabbit and Tarragon pie, with no cheese for our non cheese eating colleague! The pie which had been traditionally made in a shallow pie tin was served with mashed potatoes, peas and carrots. The pastry was thin and crispy and the filling was succulent and very tasty. It did not arrive with the jug of gravy on the side, just as we like it, but this was soon rectified when requested by one of the group.

A few of us still had room for a pudding of pannacota before walking back to Bishops Waltham.
Scores (max of 5 in each category, 25 overall)
  • Pastry         4.46      
  • Filling        4.88
  • Beer           4.62
  • Ambience  4.57
  • Value         4.58
  • Total        23.11
An excellent score for the Brushmakers in a year which is turning out to be full of very high quality pies. Many thanks to all at the Brushmakers for their hospitality and providing an excellent lunch.

Monday, 11 June 2018

The Bucks Head, Meonstoke, 31st May 2018

We have had two previous visits to the Bucks Head and on both occasions had an excellent lunch. On both previous visits they had narrowly missed out on the prestigious Pie Club Pie of the Year award so we were looking forward to our return visit.
We had been planning to walk the 4 miles to Meonstoke but as the weather forecast was for thunderstorms and rain, the like of which had not been seen before, and we did not have time to build an ark, we took a taxi. As it happened the storms did not arrive and it was a lovely summers day!

On arrival we were faced with a choice of 3 beers on handpump including, unusually for our part of the world, a Scottish beer:

Belhaven 80 Shilling - 4.2%, Tim Taylors Boltmaker - 4.0% and Greene King IPA - 3.6%. The Tim Taylors was not quite ready to serve, but was later, some of us kicked off with the Belhaven which was surprisingly light, as we were expecting a black beer!

After sampling a few of the excellent beers we were ready for the pie. We were to be treated to a homemade beef and ale pie which was served up as a whole pie for us to serve.

The pie was served with mash and a selection of vegetables with the bonus of plates of chips on the side and of course separate gravy on the side which was also useful for dunking the chips in!

The pie was indeed excellent, a very good shortcrust pastry and generous filling. There was one slice remaining which we could not manage so one of the group literally asked for a 'doggy bag', lucky dog!

Despite being very well fed one of our group could not resist the apple strudel with custard!

So after a few more beers the taxi arrived to take us back to a rain free Bishops Waltham!

Scores(max of 5 in each category, 25 overall)
  • Pastry        4.83
  • Filling       4.90
  • Beer          4.76
  • Ambience 4.77
  • Value        4.75
  • Total       24.01
So congratulations to everyone at the Bucks Head who have inched into the lead in the race to be the Pie Club Pub of the Year 2018. It's a tough competition this year with very few points covering the top 3 and still 6 months to go! Many thanks to all at the Bucks Head for a truly excellent lunch.

Monday, 30 April 2018

The Bugle, Botley, 26th April 2018

We had previously visited the Bugle a few years ago but as it is now under new management we felt it was time for another visit so we set off on the short bus journey from Bishops Waltham.

On arrival we received a warm welcome and were pleased to find a good choice of 4 real ales available.

The beers on offer were: Hooky from Hook Norton Brewery - 3.5%, Otter Ale from the Otter Brewery in Devon - 4.5%, Cheriton Pots Goodens Gold - 4.8% and Fullers/Gales HSB - 4.8%. Except for our Guinness drinking friend we all opted for the Hooky which was indeed a very good flavoured session beer. All the beers tried over the lunch-time were all very well kept.

The pub has homemade, individual shortcrust pastry pies on it's main menu but as there was a group of us they had prepared 2 larger Beef and Guinness pies to divide between the seven of us. Each pie was enough to feed 4 hungry pie eaters so there was a portion over to fight over - in fact it was skilfully divided up between the seven of us.

The pies were delivered in style by our host and boy did they look good!

They were served with a good selection of fresh vegetables and mashed potatoes with, of course, the essential jugs of gravy on the side. Everyone agreed the pie was delicious with shortcrust pastry on bottom, sides and top. There was a generous filling of succulent beef and you could even taste the Guinness.

The pies were duly demolished and we paused for more beer while we considered the puddings. A few of us were very tempted by the cheeseboard for 2, a selection of local Lyburn cheeses, which came with a glass of wine each followed by a glass of port, which was priced at a very reasonable £20. However, our host had kindly prepared a homemade lemon meringue pie, which was enough to feed all of us, and it was indeed excellent.

Feeling well satisfied after an excellent lunch we decided to stay on for an extra beer to help the digestion before catching the bus back to Bishops Waltham.

Scores (max of 5 in each category, 25 overall)

  • Pastry          4.89
  • Filling         4.90
  • Beer            4.70
  • Ambience   4.67
  • Value          4.58
  • Total         23.74
This puts The Bugle in 2nd place overall so far this year by the smallest of margins - 0.05! Many thanks to everyone at The Bugle for an excellent lunch and great hospitality.

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

The Black Dog, Waltham Chase, 29th March 2018

We previously visited the Black Dog in March 2016 and as it has previously won the prestigious Pie Club Pub of the Year award so we felt it was due another visit. So on an extremely wet and cold March day we headed off on the short bus journey to Waltham Chase to meet the others who had been chauffeur driven!

On arrival it was too wet to get a photo of the pub but once inside we were greeted by 4 real ales on handpump.

The beers on offer were: Greene King IPA - 3.6%, Black Dog Bitter - 3.9%, Westerham Brewery British Bulldog - 4.1% and Abbot Ale - 5%. All the beers tasted were in fine condition as was the Guinness.

The pie on offer was a homemade Ox-Cheek braised in Beer. Being homemade it had been made in one large dish which caused a bit of banter amongst the group as to who should get the corner portions and the extra pastry. Those of us on a health kick of course opted for portions from the side!

The portions were very generous and were accompanied by a good selection of vegetables, chips, horseradish mash and of course separate jugs of gravy on the side.

There was a nice touch of French Bread on the table when we arrived which would have been useful for mopping up the gravy had it not all been devoured before the pies arrived!

The pie was indeed very good with lots of succulent filling and a good shortcrust pastry. Our only criticism was that it was rather over salted which meant we had to order more beer!

Some of us still had room for puddings of which there were a fine selection, see below (the puddings are on the blackboards.......).

So, after a very enjoyable lunch we headed back into the torrential rain for the short trip back to Bishops Waltham.

Scores (max of 5 in each category, 25 overall)
  • Pastry        4.34
  • Filling       4.35
  • Beer          4.56
  • Ambience 4.39
  • Value        4.70 
  • Overall   22.34
This score was an improvement of a score of 22.31 recorded at the March 2016 visit so congratulations to everyone at the Black Dog and thank you for an excellent lunch.

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

The Wheatsheaf, Shedfield, 25th January 2018

As January is such an awful month, we decided we all needed cheering up, so what better than a return visit to one of our favourite pubs and two times winner of the prestigious Pie Club Pub of the Year Award, The Wheatsheaf at Shedfield.

So we took the short bus journey to Shedfield in anticipation of the treat in store.

As usual we received a warm welcome and were offered the normal good selection of Pots Ales plus guests all served from the barrels, except for those on Guinness!


We had plenty of time to sample the beers which were in tip-top condition and at £3 a pint for the Perridge and Flowerpots bitter were excellent value. When the pies arrived we were not disappointed:

Two homemade Steak and Guinness pies to serve the 11 of us with enough left over for seconds, served with new potatoes, a selection of veg and jugs of gravy on the side.

The overall feeling was the pie was delicious, with very good shortcrust pastry and succulent meat and of course the Guinness based gravy went down well with our Guinness drinking colleagues! Luckily, there was no pudding menu so after clearing our plates and seconds we retired to the bar. In fact instead of returning to Bishops Waltham and the Crown we decided to stay on and continue to enjoy the good value beer.

Scores (max of 5 in each category, 25 overall)
  • Pastry         4.78
  • Filling        4.85
  • Beer           4.68
  • Ambience  4.53
  • Value         4.95   
  • Total        23.79
What a great start to 2018 and congratulations to all at the Wheatsheaf for opening up with such a high score which will be challenging to beat but the year is still watch this space!