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Different tastes but clear winners… how judges agreed on best bangers at the Butcher’s Pride sausage competition which included entries from South Holland, Boston and the Deepings





“Are you here for the sausage?” is not a line I’d used to open with a stranger in a hotel foyer before.

But all that changed on Friday as I clumsily blurted out those words.

It was, for clarity, that time of year again, the Butcher’s Pride competition, and I was looking to meet up with my fellow judges at Spalding’s Cley Hall Hotel.

LincsOnline's Duncan Browne prepares for another mouthful. Photo: Chris Lowndes
LincsOnline's Duncan Browne prepares for another mouthful. Photo: Chris Lowndes

Thankfully the gentleman in question, Boston College lecturer Adrian Walker-Slade, was there for the same thing, and welcomed me to join him.

For the 13th time a group of strangers from the area were brought together for the near-impossible task of having to choose the best sausage from the South Holland, Deepings, and Boston patch.

And with six very different palates sat around the table, picking a winner – especially from such a competitive field – was going to be a tough ask.

Organiser George Bell watches on as the judges get stuck in. Photo: Chris Lowndes
Organiser George Bell watches on as the judges get stuck in. Photo: Chris Lowndes

Or was it?

Find out the winners of the Butcher’s Pride competition here.

Following a pep talk from event chairman and ever-present sausage sheriff Sir John Hayes, who offered tips on how to tuck in (cut lengthways, don’t eat too much, take in the aroma) it was time to get crackling.

One by one, 29 very different bangers were brought to the table by Boston College catering students-turned-waiters Matthew Smith and Alicia Price, professional to the end as they politely watched the table for six stuff their faces.

You can't beat Lincolnshire bangers! Cley Hall Hotel manager Gemma Williams with a tray of sausages. Photo: Chris Lowndes
You can't beat Lincolnshire bangers! Cley Hall Hotel manager Gemma Williams with a tray of sausages. Photo: Chris Lowndes

For me, this was my second year representing LincsOnline in the hot seat and I’d learnt a few tips the of my own the hard way.

Try to take one bite and leave it at that, a second if you’re not too sure. But don’t peak too soon or you’ll soon find yourself turning into Monty Python’s Mr Creosote and even that wafer-thin mint will be too much.

If anything, save yourself for the second round, as the Specialist flavours are the ones that’ll make you want that second or third bite as you debate whether that’s marmite, mint or Mars bar you can taste.

Thankfully, none of those flavours were actually on the plate this year, but personal favourites included the smoked bacon and maple flavoured banger from Moulton Chapel Butchers – a blanket in a pig, if you will.

Each judge was tasked with marking each banger out of 40, with marks out of 10 for taste, flavour, appearance and texture, with event organiser George Bell handed the tough tast of totting up at speed to declare the winners.

Pre-match discussions made us realise we all preferred different butchers for our own tables and made us question whether this would cause chaos in the marking.

Would there be fall outs as we all pick different favourites? As just one-sixth of the panel, was the South Holland and the Deepings MP in an unfamiliar situation where he wouldn’t have the majority backing him?

In short, no. Despite our preconceived bias it was eyebrow raising to realise that apart from a few anomalies we pretty much gravitated to similar sausages in this blind taste test.

There were a few nervy moments as Moulton Chapel’s Mark Elsey and representatives from Ivy’s Farm Shop in Swineshead arrived to see how their entries had done, a move that proved these butchers to be as brave as they are talented.

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Blushes were spared, thankfully, as both were deservedly commended for their entries.

But, as ever, the final word belonged to chairman Sir John who rightfully pointed out that even those sausages that didn’t get the nod this year would more than top anything we’d find on our plates beyond county borders.

Something we could all completely agree on.

What do you think? Did they pick the right winner? Tell us your views – and butcher recommendations – in the comments below...



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