Scratch Turns 10! Join Us in April to Celebrate
Scratch Brewing Company is 10 today! Below is a message from Marika and an invitation to our 10th anniversary celebrations this April.
Ten years ago today, after a typical early-March ice storm blew through Southern Illinois, Scratch opened the doors to its tiny tasting room in the woods outside of Ava. We had yet to build out our extensive outdoor seating area, so on that first day, customers stepped along 2x4s over muddy soil, to sit in one of the 35 seats of our tasting room. But while the interior, with the full-sized Piasa Bird stretching across the wall behind the bar and mason jars filled with dried goods we put in our beer, has remained virtually the same since our opening day, we’ve spent ten years building out the garden and outdoor seating area. Visitors are now as familiar with the nooks and crannies along the rock wall that Aaron built with creek stones from the property, as they are the hidden images and sculptures that Brett Douglas Hunter tucked in the corners of the Serpent Room. A long work in progress, the porch of the log cabin that sits at the edge of the pavilion will hopefully be open later this year for more seating, as Aaron builds the deck out of trees milled from Scratch’s property.
As they say about having children, the days are long but the years are short. The same is true in business, particularly the brewing business with its long days cleaning fermenters and unclogging a stuck mash. But how ten years have flown. In ten years, Scratch has sent beer to Alaska, Washington, Oregon, California, Arizona, Nevada, Colorado, Texas, Iowa, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Indiana, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New York, Massachusetts, Washington, DC, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Florida. We’ve participated in beer events in Belgium, Germany, Spain, Italy, and Denmark. Our book, published in 2016, continues to reach home brewers all over the country and the world, and is still one of the few resources for brewing with plants other than hops. Among many awards and accolades over the years, we were honored to be nominated for a second time this year for a James Beard Award. It all seems like outsized honor for a small brewery with a simple mission: to make beer that conveys life in the woods in Southern Illinois.
And of course we had no idea that in the midst of it all we would be thrown into a global pandemic. It’s bittersweet to survive when so many other businesses did not. We are grateful to our loyal customers, our indefatigable staff, and our extended friends and family for their unending support. Life has been uncertain since March of 2020 and it’s been four years since the last time Scratch celebrated another year on earth, so this year? We party!
Owing to the success of our month-long Oktoberfest celebrations of the last few years, we are going to configure our anniversary party this year the same way. Every Saturday in April we will have special beers available in casks, special pizzas to go along with them, and Marika and Aaron will lead a forage walk and a guided tasting of the beers we have available that weekend. (Tickets for the forage walk and tasting will be available on a first-come first-served basis and limited to just 15 people per Saturday to make for an intimate group. More details are available on the ticket page and tickets are available now.) The themes of the beers each weekend will change and below is a tentative schedule:
April 1: Tree Beers
April 8: Stein Beers
April 15: Baked Beers
April 22: Mushroom Beers
April 29: Wild Fruit Beers
Put a Saturday in April in your schedule. The early spring in Southern Illinois is a magical time of wildflowers and morel mushrooms. Take a walk on one of the gorgeous trails in the Shawnee and join us for an afternoon celebrating this little nook of the woods.