Unless you’re a 15-year-old skater, kid you probably don’t know very much about Sadler’s Yard yet. Named after a 19th century local eccentric and situated just behind Balloon Street (that’s the road the Metrolink runs up between Victoria and Shudehill), the public square forms part of the £800 million NOMA development project. And although up until recently there’s been little reason to visit, unless you were planning on ‘nosesliding’ (thanks Google!) down a railing, that all changed in September with the opening of the Pilcrow.

Named after a semi-obscure typographical character, for some reason or another, the purpose made Scandi-style wooden hut is the latest establishment on the ever-exciting, ever-expanding Manchester craft beer scene. The fact it was built entirely by volunteers and is run by All Our Yesterdays – a collaboration between Jonathan Heyes (behind the renowned Port Street Beer House) and Paul Jones of Cloudwater Brewery – means the Pilcrow definitely has all the marks that could, and should, establish it as the community hub for Manchester’s 21st century beer lovers.

The clean and minimalist interior of the establishment is the result of hours of traditional craftsmanship and local manpower, rather than a day trip to the Ashton IKEA, and it certainly shows. Walking into the spacious and bright bar feels like a secret door into trendiest Copenhagen – wooden furniture, handmade hand-pulls, modernist lighting. It’s architectural bliss. There’s definitely a sense that if you hang around long enough, the Cocteau Twins will almost certainly be played.

A chalkboard to the left of the bar offers up the day’s beer choices with a particular emphasis on seasonal brews. From well-established national heavyweights Thornbridge and Beavertown, to local favourites and obscure overseas breweries, it’s clear a lot of thought by someone with a lot of knowledge has gone into making the Pilcrow a major player in a very competitive scene. As with all good bars nowadays, tasters are offered rather than requested and the staff can hold their own against even the most obsessive beer nerd. Prices will see a few eyebrows raised, but there’s definitely an element of ‘you-get-what-you-pay-for’ in the beer scene, and if you want a badly kept pint of bitter, there’s plenty of grubby old boozers not too far away who can certainly see to that for you.

With the Northern Quarter’s favourite bakehouse Blawd and bar snack extraordinaires Beehive on board, the food is honest and damn good too. The Manchester scotch eggs are to die for. Their events range from gin tastings to pub quizzes and DJ sets.

While it is indeed early days and longevity is indeed the name of the game, the Pilcrow seems to be providing something truly different to the Manchester beer scene. Of course there’s a pinch of the elements that have made bars like Port Street, Beermoth Cafe and Common amongst the best modern watering holes in the city, but there’s something else, closer to the Mancunian heart, about this one. And as ‘the pub that Manchester built’ becomes a sort of unofficial slogan for the Pilcrow, you may be too late to knock them up a table and chairs, but you can certainly show them your support by trying your first Cloudwater DIPAV9 somewhere other than PS for a change.

Photo by Sara Hill.

Jordan Lee Smith