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‘Innovative’ Oakham Ales founder John Wood dies

John Wood, the founder of Peterborough brewery Oakham Ales and a “pioneer” in the UK’s real ale scene, has died.

Oakham Ales founder John Wood masterminded Jeffrey Hudson Bitter, one of the brewery’s most popular ales. (Photo: Oakham)

Wood, who was an active branch member of the Campaign for Real Ale and a popular figure in the real ale community, passed away on Friday 19 January after being admitted to Glenfield Hospital in Leicestershire.

Members of the brewing community have taken to Twitter to share their condolences.

Wood founded Oakham in 1993, and masterminded one of the brewery’s best-known beers, award-winning ale Jeffrey Hudson Bitter (JHB).

Wood left the microbrewery two years later, which was relocated to Peterborough when it was purchased by senior partner Paul Hook, but his signature JHB ale was kept on.

JHB has won several accolades since the UK’s craft beer scene has evolved and expanded in the past 20 years, including a gold in CAMRA’s Supreme Champion Beer Award in 2001, and another gold in the Society of Independent Brewers Association’s (SIBA) Great Beer of East Anglia awards.

Known as “The Woodster” by CAMRA members, Wood was also championed independent cider producers, acting as cider officer for the organisation’s Rutland branch.

CAMRA released a statement on 20 January hailing Wood as a trailblazer within the UK’s craft beer market.

“It has been said that John, with the success of JHB, helped change the face of brewing by introducing new ranges of hops leading to a lighter, more ‘floral’ taste and lighter colour to beers.”

“He was always happy to share his knowledge and expertise of the brewing industry with those who sought it.”

“John will be sorely missed by all the Rutland CAMRA branch, as he also will by the Rutland Morris Men for whom he was a musician for many years.”

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