History of the Brewery

Everyone was keen to get brewing, but no-one quite knew what to do! Brewing ‘Godfather’ Peter Austin (second right) gave invaluable advice and is pictured with, from the left: Rob Orr, Anthony Wood, Edward Wood, and Basil Wood.

The Wood Brewery was started by the Wood family in the stables of The Plough Inn in Wistanstow, South Shropshire, in 1980 and it sold its first pints at the pub next door, The Plough. That beer, a lovely chestnut-coloured pint, was called Wood’s Special and we still brew it today.

“That first pint was a marvellous moment,” said Managing Director, Edward Wood. His brother, Anthony, and his late father, Basil, developed and founded the brewery because the whole Wood family had been dismayed by the rapid advance of ‘keg’ beers to the detriment of ‘real ale’. Edward joined them within months of the start.

The early Eighties saw Wood’s first venture into bottled beers. “We filled each bottle with a hose and there were a couple of us sat on crates hand-capping the bottles. It was a very slow job,” said Edward. Today, bottling is contracted out and drinkers can find Wood’s Shropshire Lad, Hopping Mad, Pot o’ Gold and Christmas Cracker in supermarkets, off-licences, restaurants and pubs around the country.

Wood’s is believed to be the oldest of the ‘new wave’ of real ale breweries to still be under the same family ownership.

“Keg beer didn’t really taste of anything much, so we decided to offer a genuine flavourful alternative – in our village at least,” said Basil after opening the brewery. His commitment to real beer was long-running. In the late 1970s, having taken early retirement from a directorship of a large and successful poultry business, he had bought and renovated The Plough, which was literally next door to the family home.

Today’s brewery has grown beyond recognition from the modest little set-up that produced the first pints of Special. Its brewing capacity of 20 barrels a week was boosted to 50 barrels within a year, and now, with expansion and development that has continued through the years at a cost of hundreds of thousands of pounds, the Wood Brewery is a modern plant a capacity of 110 brewers’ barrels – nearly 4,000 gallons . In addition to a healthy number of free houses, it supplies orders to Wetherspoons and other big names in the pub industry.