Pie 164: The Carlisle United Steak & Ale Pie

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I’ve gone rogue! That’s right I’ve infringed on rival turf and this last Good Friday I took a train down to Brunton Park to take in Carlisle United v Lincoln City in the race to escape League Two.

I have to say as footballing day trips from Glasgow go the hour long train ride from Glasgow Central to the populous heart of Cumbria is a pretty good one. The journey is relatively cheap, there are a good number of pubs in and around the city centre as well around the ground with Brunton Park itself a short twenty minute walk from the station. I’d recommend it and as I found on the train back to Glasgow later that evening I wasn’t the only visitor from north of the border to the Cumbrian’s that day.

The rugby club beside the stadium was busier than usual with over 2,000 Lincoln City fans in attendance hoping that The Imps would lift the title and so, after deciding to not wait in a massive queue for the second time, I headed into the stadium where I continued my supping as well as, of course, having a meat filled pastry.

So without much further ado, let’s rate some pie!

Where: Brunton Park, Carlisle United 1-0 Lincoln City, English League Two

Price: There were two pricing options for this pastry. Option 1 was to buy the pie on it’s own for £2.80 or Option 2, to buy a pie and a pint (I’m not going to get deep into the booze at football debate here) for £6. Obviously I like the economics behind option number two and so promptly set myself up with a Steak & Ale Pie and a pint of Strongbow because it was sunny and sunny equals cider. The BBC Price of Football survey recently calls this out as one of the cheapest pies in the English Football League which, considering this game was in the bottom tier of this set up, is quite frightening.

Presentation: This was weird as after putting away my change I was presented with one of those white silver lined heat retaining bags which I was assured had my pie within. After finding a spot to watch the end of the Sheffield United v Nottingham Forest game, I opened the bag to then find my pie wrapped in plastic. I remove the plastic to finally have in my hand a fairly large pie housed with a silver tin foil case. So odd.

Meatiness: Well once I got to a bite with some filling in, my first couple of bites heartbreakingly shy of both meat and/or gravy, this was a fairly tasty mouthful. The gravy was viscous and plentiful enough with the right hint of ale to the overall taste but for me the steak was a little sparse and the chunks a little small which meant they didn’t add that meaty tooth feel that really pushes a pie onto greatness.


Pastry: It and nice golden tinge to it but it was too soft. Soft, almost spongy, on the bottom and soft on the top with the flakes of pastry a little soggy. As soon as you got through your initial bite every one that followed there after resulted in the gravy squirting out all over the shop. Pastry on a pie, on the top at the very least, should be crispy. With it being hosted in this multitude of bags the pie had clearly steamed under the heat lamps and so the pastry for me was all wrong.

Brown Sauce: None for a luxury pie. Them be the rules.

Overall: The filling tasted pretty good but the wasteful nature of the packaging and the softness of the pastry really holds this pie back. I was surprised to learn as I entered the Pioneer Stand that this was an “Award Winning” pie and my concern is that once again a pie that wins prizes on the shelf of a butcher’s or baker’s shop had been compromised in the face of mass catering.

Gravy Factor: Spongy Gravy.

Would love to have this pie without the heat bags and plastics but this site designated to the best pies you can have at the ground and as long as the pie continues to be presented in this way it will remain a fairly tasty but slightly wrong take on the wonder that is a meat filled pastry.

Next up, I have a first for the site as I get elbow deep into a Breakfast Pie from Scottish Junior side Clydebank as they took on Pollok at their temporary home of Lochburn Park in Glasgow’s West End.

However until then, go forth, and eat pie!

Chris Marshall, is a BJTC accredited Radio Journalist with an honours degree in Communications & Mass Media from Glasgow Caledonian University. A member of the SWPL Media Team and a contributor to various football websites and publications he also currently acts as Heart & Hand Podcast’s resident Iberian football expert, hosting “The Isco Inferno” a weekly take on all things Spanish football. A perennial ‘Scottish Sporting Optimist’ and part-time Madrileno with a passion for food and football that has manifest itself in the wonder that is Meat Filled Pastries.

One thought on “Pie 164: The Carlisle United Steak & Ale Pie

    […] pie fans I hope you enjoyed my saunter south of the border last time out as I took in the bright lights of Carlisle as the League Two promotion race in England heads […]

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