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Scratch Brewing (and food) Ava, IL

Scratch Brewing (and food) Ava, IL
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  • Scratch Brewing (and food) Ava, IL

    Post #1 - August 23rd, 2017, 1:10 pm
    Post #1 - August 23rd, 2017, 1:10 pm Post #1 - August 23rd, 2017, 1:10 pm

    The two of us had a wonderful time at Scratch Brewing in Ava Illinois at eclipse time. Its primarily a beer geek destination but they do offer a limited menu of home grown or locally sourced food like bread, pizza, cheese and charcuterie. It is the only brewery I know of that employs farmers and foragers who work the farmland and surrounding area.

    Probably after New Glarus (and not a fair comparison) it is the most beautiful brewery setting I have ever seen. Scratch is located on a farm and surrounded by farms for many miles. Every road you turn on as you approach gets narrower and narrower until a small lane ends at their property. They have a small tap room and larger upstairs event space, but most of the seating is on a huge amount of outdoor space on reclaimed brick patios or small river rock pebbles. The outdoor furniture is old tables or picnic tables, mismatched chairs, logs and benches. Reclaimed wood in heavy use.

    I tried all of the thirteen beers on offer that day and many of them were very good, some were not so much to my taste, yet it was fun to taste things like a beer made with smoked foraged wild hen of the woods mushrooms even if I didnt love it. They also feature several beers that do not use hops as bittering agents, but rather marigolds, cedar, hyssop or wild carrots. Some of these were amazing. Just about everything that goes into their beers is foraged or grown on their property. For me, the best beers were the ones that used the house wild yeast strain; saisons and sour/vegetable/herb/fruit brews. I liked the carrot wheat and cedar stout alot too.

    We tried a wood oven pizza w sausage, arugula pesto and goat cheese. Maybe could have used a couple more minutes to get a little crispier but a minor quibble considering how busy they were. Super tasty. Alot of folks were getting the loaf of bread with an assortment of spreads, Bloomsdale goat cheese from a small farm over the river in Missouri, or salumi from Beddu in STL. Goes without saying the pizza crust and bread use the house wild yeast culture. And of course they have a house pickled vegetable platter.

    Cant imagine Id ever go back but certainly an amazing experience if you happen to be anywhere near the Carbondale (St Louis?) area.

    Lastly, if anyone is curious about their beers, but doesnt want to make the trek, local store the Beer Temple carries some of their beers.
    264 Thompson Road
    Ava, IL
    open Thursday-Sunday only.
  • Post #2 - April 10th, 2021, 9:54 pm
    Post #2 - April 10th, 2021, 9:54 pm Post #2 - April 10th, 2021, 9:54 pm
    Just returned from southern IL, including a visit to Scratch Brewing. Remarkable place -- really beautiful -- surrounded by trees, broad gardens, rustic vibe -- with really remarkable products. Most of what you need to know is in the original post. Just nice to know they're still going and growing.

    If you can get to Ava, IL, this place is definitely worth visiting, but their website includes a list of places that sell their beer.

    Worth noting -- hours are now Friday through Sunday (though you can call and arrange a pick-up, if you're there Monday-Thursday) -- check website before going, as the pandemic has made things a little different -- and because of COVID, there is no food at the moment -- though they're hoping it will be available again soon. They use the same sourdough yeast in the beer as they use in their bread. So now I need to go back sometime after they start baking again.

    Something to look forward to a little further in the future: when I arrived, Aaron, one of the two owners, was busy planting trees for a future cider offering -- though cider is considered wine, not beer, so they'll be busy with different licensing requirements for a couple of years.

    The beer at Scratch definitely isn't ordinary beer. Even the ginger in their ginger beer they grow on their farm. So definitely worth pursuing. (And if you like Barbecue, legendary 17th Street BBQ keeps Scratch beer on tap.)

    And not of minor importance -- owners Marika and Aaron are terrifically nice, interesting people.
    "All great change in America begins at the dinner table." Ronald Reagan