For almost a year and half you all have been asking about the plans for the building under construction, adjacent to the current tasting room.
The wait is over.
That structure, a combination cellar and event space, opens on Saturday, January 28th at Scratch’s second annual Botanical Beer and Bonfire Fest.
Downstairs, the brewery has already expanded into an underground cellar, increasing our barrel-aging capacity and allowing us to begin bottling beers. Upstairs, the new building has been a work-in-progress as local artist Brett Douglas Hunter created a masterwork in the new space. Every inch of the room is painted or mounted with Hunter’s original art and sculptures, from the stairwell to the ceiling to the bar, tables, and bathroom. “We wanted an artist to make this building their Sistine Chapel,” says Scratch co-owner Marika Josephson. “Everyone who visits this new tasting room gets to interact with a piece of Brett’s energetic original art. There are surprises around every corner.”
The upstairs seating area includes a bar, seating for 50, and roll-up windowed garage doors which look out onto Scratch’s hops, goat pen, and patio. The room will act as overflow seating during busy months and annual events, and covered seating during inclement weather. It will also be a private event space that can be rented out year round. The space is ideal for business events, birthdays, receptions, and other moderately sized gatherings for people who want a private bartender and an intimate, colorful space to enjoy with close friends, family, or colleagues.
We are inaugurating the new space during our Botanical Beer and Bonfire Fest on January 28th! The festival features 16 small-batch beers made with Southern Illinois-grown plants, herbs, and other botanicals foraged from the woods or harvested from the property and local farms. Each of our employees brewed a special beer for the festival, and artist Brett Douglas Hunter collaborated on a batch to commemorate the opening of his major artwork. The public has not been allowed to see the whole room yet, but many have spied a giant water snake on the back of one wall. The creature inspired a beer related to snake wine, a Southeast Asian specialty, often made with a base of strong rice wine, which acts as a cure-all for inflammation and joint pain. No snakes were used in Scratch’s version but botanicals such as ginger, turmeric, and spicebush were added for their historical curative properties. Together with local rice and rye, they give the beer a dry bite. (Time will tell if the concoction helps with anyone’s lower back pain.) The festival runs from noon to 10 PM on January 28th. A $35 admission covers a goblet, 8 samples, a bowl of hot house-made chili and hearth-baked cornbread. (Extra beer samples are available for purchase.) Bonfires will be lit around the patio all day long to ward off the cold.
The upstairs seating area in the new building will be open to the public Saturday and Sunday through the month of February, and then on more limited occasions and by appointment or rental. To find out more about renting the space, contact Scratch at firstname.lastname@example.org.