It’s definitely the only Altrincham bar to be named after a mathematical constant, and as manager Will Kellock tells us, there’s much more that goes into keeping Pi Bar a local institution.
We sat down with Timperley-born Will for a chat.
ALTRINCHAM TODAY: Can you give us a bit of a potted history of Pi Bar in Altrincham – it’s a bit of a local institution!
WILL KELLOCK: It definitely is! Pi Bar has been serving great beer to the great people of Altrincham for a decade now. Many have seen it as something of a Beer Academy, what with the owners of Batch and Libero having cut their teeth here. We’ve always been beer focussed, supporting independent craft breweries, and whilst we sadly no longer serve the famous pies, there’s still plenty to offer!
AT: You’ve been the manager for a year now – what’s your own background and how did you end up in charge here?
WK: Born and raised in Timperley, I grew up in Altrincham and have witnessed its beautiful blossoming into a thriving market town firsthand. I used to teach in Germany, living in Koblenz for just under two years, where I discovered a passion for all things beer and grew to really admire their ethos of supporting local breweries. I took my first bar job at the Old Market Tavern with this in mind, and after learning the ins and outs of pouring pints, tapping casks and changing casks, I was soon running the place and brought a real focus on local breweries to the fore.
I was at the OMT for about two years, and it gave me a real foundation to take with me into Pi Bar. I started just after the pandemic, and I love it here. It’s a perfect combination of cosiness, location, history and quality. After Roisin left the management post, I simply volunteered to take on extra tasks, and after a while of figuring out my vision for the place, I was crowned (yes, the staff actually made me a paper crown!) manager.
AT: Pi Bar is very much a beer lover’s bar. Tell us a bit more about your drink offer here.
WK: It’s definitely a beer lover’s paradise, but by no means do you have to be an ale aficionado to enjoy what we do. I often tell those new to Pi Bar that while we serve beers you might not recognise, they’re certainly beers you won’t forget! There’s a long standing history of craft beer here at Pi Bar – all I have done since starting is honed in on supporting breweries within a 31.4 mile radius (hence the name Pi Bar).
To me, local is best. There’s a plethora of really top notch breweries in the area, with new ones popping up all the time. We have our favourites and a few permanent beer offerings from Tatton, Runaway and Mobberley, but other than that, we rotate around a roster of breweries to always keep things fresh and exciting.
Having lived in Germany, I’ve brought with me that passion for German beer, filling the fridges and taps with Helles Lager, Kölsch, Weißbier, Pilsener and more! Although initially set up as a Belgian Bar known as La Trappiste, I’d love to switch focus and establish Pi Bar as a premium German beer place. However, whilst we’re home to the renowned Pi-PA, a 4.2% session IPA brewed exclusively for us by Runaway in Manchester, Pi Bar isn’t just a beer place. We have a great selection of local spirits from Weetwood Distillery and Forest Gins, we also have a range of quality wines too!
AT: The pandemic was obviously a difficult time for the bar business generally – how was it for you and Pi Bar?
WK: The pandemic was brutal for a lot of businesses and a lot of people. What with being in and out of various lockdowns and restrictions, it was a scary and confusing time for everyone. Having come into Pi Bar as restrictions were lifted and pubs were allowed to reopen, I must admit I was somewhat apprehensive about how it would all work, but having worked through the pandemic in Propeller Coffee in Sale, I was used to table service and all the other restrictions in place.
Once we’d got ourselves up and running, it was a breeze. We had a great summer, and it was beautiful to see everyone coming together again. We spruced up our Secret Garden with some new decking and plants to accommodate more outdoor seating, reworked the furniture layout, redecorated and breathed new life into the place.
AT: Being a green business is important to you – tell us a bit more about that.
WK: As a practising Pagan, I have a close connection with the Earth and to nature, so being green is a close personal matter to me. Pubs and bars are the epicentres of communities, and as such, should really be setting the example. I’ve been slowly introducing more plants and greenery as not only an aesthetic choice, but to provide oxygen and a habitat for bees and other beings. I am also trying to eliminate single use products such as cling film, blue roll, plastics, by simply swapping them out for renewable and reusable solutions.
AT: What else is new at Pi and what are your hopes for the summer?
WK: For us at Pi Bar, summer will see lots more decorating, lots more plants, and focusing on really getting Pi Bar looking as beautiful as it can. I plan to change our wine list, expand our German beer range, broaden my knowledge of spirits and pairings, and eventually even look towards reinstating a food offering.
In terms of what’s new currently, there’s more board games, a recently refurbished garden, new staff, and lots of new beer. For me, my focus now is on simply carrying on what I’ve been doing this past year – serving great beer to great people.
Pi Bar, 18 Shaw’s Rd, Altrincham WA14 1QU. For more, visit pibar.co.uk or follow @PiAltrincham on Facebook or @pibaraltrincham on Instagram and Twitter.
Photography: Laura Marie Linck