Pubs in the Devizes and Marlborough area have dominated this year’s pie contest run by Devizes brewery Wadworth & Co.

Three out of the five on the short list came from within ten miles of the brewery – the Waggon & Horses at Beckhampton, the Barge in Seend and the Crown Inn in Devizes are all in the running during the cook-off at the new Wadworth Cookery School in Devizes.

With 26 pubs entering the competition from all over the south, Scott Ferguson, food development manager at Wadworth, was happy with the entry and was impressed with some surprise trends in the competition.

He said: “With 26 separate pubs entering this year’s competition, it was one of the biggest we’ve run. Each pub had to create an innovative and unique recipe for a pie and have it on sale for a month before the cook-off to allow for customer feedback and for a secret inspection by one of our judges.

“The short list was then invited to the cook-off at our new Cookery School where the winner was decided. The trends this year included a number of chefs opting to create rabbit pie, and stout was a popular ingredient.”

The Barge in Seend was crowned the winner with a beef, stout and stilton pie, using Wadworth’s new stout Corvus in the recipe. Chef Paul Haynes was delighted with the result.

He said: “After coming runner up last year it feels fantastic to have been awarded the top spot.

“The pie has been a huge success in our pub, having sold over 200 last month. We made use of home-cooked steak, stewed to give it a delicious tenderness and with pieces of Stilton allowed to melt in during cooking.

“It gives a nice creamy flavour with the subtle hit of blue cheese. We used Corvus to make the gravy, as its deep and rich flavours perfectly complement the tasty meat and cheese flavour. Served with hand cut chips and a side of curly kale, it’s a truly heartwarming dish.”

The Crown Inn in Devizes took the runner-up spot with an unusual pie named Jewel of the Crown chicken and fennel filo pie, the only one in the short list to use filo pastry. Chef George Stone-man said: “I was making a chicken soup and after adding fennel it occurred to me with a bit of adjusting the dish would taste nice in a pie.

“With the addition of smoked bacon and the lightness of filo pastry the pie tastes great. We had some excellent feedback from our customers.”

The panel of judges included Scott Ferguson as well as Andy Cook from Walter Rose & Son of Devizes, the sponsor of the competition who donated hampers as prizes for the winning pub and the runner-up.