Beer drinkers will have a real ale of a time as the only beer festival of its kind anywhere in the world heads to North Shields.

Woodfest 2018 will see 76 ales from around the country served from traditional wooden casks at The Exchange Café Bar on Howard Street on Thursday, Friday and Saturday this week.

The festival will be the only place on the planet that drinkers can get their hands on so many traditionally-kept beers.

The event has been organised by the Society for the Preservation of Beers from the Wood (SPBW), whose chairman is Rob Shacklock.

Rob, who is also bar manager at The Exchange, said: “You won’t find this many beers served in wooden casks anywhere else in the world, let alone the country! It really is a must for any beer drinker in the North East.

“We had our first ever Woodfest last year in Castleford, and as soon as it was finished we picked The Exchange for our second ever event – before I even started working here. It will be the perfect venue.

“There will be four bars set up in the auditorium and all kinds and colours of beers available at the same time, as well as a few ciders. There will be something for everyone.

“The North East has a great beer heritage and is home to many quality real ales, so it is the ideal place to hold this kind of festival.”

The festival takes place on Thursday (5th), from 4pm-10pm, and Friday and Saturday (6th-7th) from 12 noon until 10pm.

Tickets, which cost just £10, come with three free beers tokens, with ticket-holders able to purchase more tokens as well as food.

Attendees on Thursday will also get a chance to witness the country’s only remaining master cooper – Alastair Simms from White Rose Cooperidge in Wetherby – making a wooden cask.

Rob, who has managed the bar at The Exchange since February, added: “Traditionally all beer was served in wood until the 1960s, until metal kegs started taking over. That’s when the society was founded.

“Being stored in wood adds a different dimension to the drink, and we are really looking forward to celebrating and enjoying so many beers from the wood this week.

“However, as well as championing high-quality, traditionally-stored beer, we are trying to support the craft of the cooper which is a dying art.”

The Exchange building, which until 2015 was a restaurant, was reopened in 2016 and relaunched as a cultural arts venue with charitable status, alongside a café bar serving a variety of beers and food.

Tickets for Woodfest can be bought on the door or by calling 0191 258 4111. More information on The Exchange can be found at http://www.attheexchange.info or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/attheexchange.