The Wood Brewery was started by the Wood family in the stables of The Plough Inn in Wistanstow, South Shropshire, in 1980 and is believed to be the oldest of the ‘new wave’ of real ale breweries to still be under the same family ownership.
The first pints produced were sold at the pub next door, The Plough, which is still the Brewery tap. 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 Wood Brewery sits in Wistanstow village, right on the edge of the Shropshire Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (for which we brew a celebration beer). To the east is Flounders’ Folly, a stone tower sitting on top of Callow Hill. To the west, Sibdon and Wart Hill show up. To the south there’s Stoke Wood, overlooking English Heritage’s Stokesay Castle, and the ancient hill fort earthwork of Norton’s Camp. The lane that runs directly through our village, right past the brewery and our brewery tap The Plough, is an old Roman road – Watling Street.
While we occasionally stage pre-booked evening brewery tours for small organized parties, probably one of the best ways of sampling our beers is to call next door at our brewery tap, The Plough, where George Parkes also serve great food.
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 to a specialist bottling company and drinkers can find Wood’s Shropshire Lad, Shropshire Lass, Parish Pale Ale, Hopping Mad, Pot o’ Gold, Trail Ale and Christmas Cracker in Tuffin’s supermarket all year round.
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 32,000 pints! . In addition to a healthy number of free houses, Wood’s supplies orders to Wetherspoons and other big names in the pub industry.
What the secret to our success? – we’re about brewing a wide variety of really good, flavourful and distinctive traditional beers in casks and bottles. We’re about creating your drinking enjoyment!