Society for the Preservation of Beers from the Wood

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SPBW logo
Wooden firkin from Bass Brewery, Burton upon Trent
Ye Olde Mitre, the SPBW's London Pub of the Year, 2019

The Society for the Preservation of Beers from the Wood (SPBW), founded in 1963, is the oldest consumer-based group interested in stimulating the brewing of, increasing the awareness of, and encouraging the drinking of traditional cask ale.[1][2] The Society also supports and encourages the use of wooden casks for beer dispense.[3]


The SPBW was founded on 6 December 1963 at the Rising Sun in Epsom, England[1][3] out of a concern for a perceived decline in both quality and palatability of beer. This was attributed to the increasing use of gas pressure dispense and the introduction of keg beers.[3]

Coopering once had a central and extensive role in British breweries.[4] In 1963 oak casks were still regarded as synonymous with traditional draught beer, but as metal casks rapidly replaced wooden ones the SPBW relaxed its principles accordingly. Although the Society does not specifically campaign for the use of wooden casks for beer dispense, it supports and encourages breweries and pubs that use them and coopers that produce them.[3]

In the 21st century there has been a revival of interest in "beer from the wood", perhaps inspired by the trend for barrel-aged beer, and this has been welcomed by the SPBW.[5] The Society's inaugural national beer festival, "Woodfest 2017" took place in Castleford, Yorkshire in July, 2017. Breweries from across the British Isles signed up to showcase their wood-conditioned beers. Hook Norton's "Haymaker" was declared to be Champion beer of the festival.[6][7]


The SPBW's aims are similar to those of CAMRA, but the emphasis is on activity within its autonomous branches, which is mainly of a social nature. (CAMRA's approach has been called "more vigorous").[8] The SPBW's National Executive Committee maintains contact with breweries and other relevant bodies on issues of concern. It produces a quarterly magazine, Pint in Hand, and organizes an annual National Weekend.[3]

London Pub of the Year[edit]

The SPBW annually chooses a London Pub of the Year (LPOTY). The competition was launched in 1980 as a reaction to a "best London pub" competition in a London evening paper, in which beer did not seem to be a significant criterion.[9] A blog is kept of the LPOTY scoring adventure during the run-up to the award although this lapsed for the 2018 competition.[10]

Other branches, in particular the Northern Ireland branch, also present local Pub of the Year awards.[11]

External links[edit]

British regional breweries using wooden casks[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Kitsock, Greg (2 August 2010). "All We Can Eat - Beer: Wooden you like a pint?". The Washington Post. Retrieved 27 April 2013.
  2. ^ Alan J. Buglass, ed. (14 February 2011). Handbook of Alcoholic Beverages: Technical, Analytical and Nutritional Aspects. John Wiley & Sons. p. 44. ISBN 978-0470512029. In the UK, the Society for Preservation of Beer from the Wood (SPBW) and the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) have been fighting against the monopolizing and rationalizing tendencies of big breweries and cider companies since 1963 and 1972, respectively.
  3. ^ a b c d e "Society for the Preservation of Beers from the Wood - HISTORY Page". Retrieved 30 November 2019.
  4. ^ Dredge, Mark (1 July 2016). "THE CRAFT OF MAKING BEER BARRELS". All About Beer Magazine. Retrieved 29 November 2019.
  5. ^ Boak, Jessica; Bailey, Ray (4 December 2013). "Return of the Wood". Boak & Bailey. Retrieved 28 November 2019.
  6. ^ Dakin, Richard (27 July 2017). "The Junction, Castleford, W. Yorks, pub review: songs from the wood". The Telegraph. Retrieved 26 November 2019.
  7. ^ "Coming all the way from USA for a pint in Cas". Pontefract and Castleford Express. 6 July 2017. Retrieved 26 November 2019.
  8. ^ Ian S. Hornsey (2003). A history of beer and brewing. Cambridge, England: The Royal Society of Chemistry. p. 679. ISBN 0-85404-630-5. Retrieved 27 April 2013. The concept of an organisation devoted to the salvation of British beer was not a new one, indeed, the Society for the Preservation of Beers from the Wood (SPBW) had been formed several years earlier, but CAMRA's approach was a far more vigorous one, and seemed suited to the mood of the time.
  9. ^ "Society for the Preservation of Beers from the Wood - NEWS Page". Retrieved 29 November 2019.
  10. ^ "Society for the Preservation of Beers from the Wood - LPOTY Page". Retrieved 29 November 2019.
  11. ^ "SPBW Branches". Retrieved 29 November 2019.