Scratch Brewing Company

Scratch Brewing CompanyScratch Brewing Company
Scratch Brewing CompanyScratch Brewing Company
Brewery, Bar, Eatery, Beer-to-go

264 Thompson Rd
Ava, Illinois, 62907-2658
United States

(618) 426-1415 | map

Thursday: 5 PM - 10 PM
Friday: 4 PM - 10 PM
Saturday: 12 PM - 10 PM
Sunday: 12 PM - 8 PM
View: Beers | Place Reviews
Recent ratings and reviews. | Log in to view more ratings + sorting options.
Rated: 4.54 by dannycohen62 from Illinois

Sep 05, 2018
Rated: 4 by c-rum from Missouri

Jul 13, 2018
Photo of StonedTrippin
Reviewed by StonedTrippin from Colorado

4.69/5  rDev +5.6%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.75 | food: 4.5
i knew i was going to love this place, thats why we put a little boys road trip together around visiting here, and we were not disappointed. the drive in is gorgeous for one, as rural and sort of out there as it gets, the paved road turns to gravel, a small wooden sign guides us in, and we pull up to the isolated looking barn space, very clearly a working farm type of spot, totally surrounded by mature forests. the building is red and interesting, newish looking, with some goats in the back in the garden area, picnic tables set up on the hillside in sort of a natural courtyard, a big stage area for live entertainment, and some obvious construction projects in the works. inside the taproom tiny and clean and newish, with jars of random herbs and seeds and such on shelves and a chalkboard beer list. they had a great selection when we were in, ten or so on tap and a handful of bottles as well. i never laid eyes on the brewhouse itself. all of the beer here is amazing, so much of it using foraged ingredients from their property. the kvass, a lavender ginger stout, a single tree cedar, and an anniversary wild ale stood out to me, but a fermented acorn stein beer, a pepita pale ale, and an elderberry barleywine also blew my mind, we didnt have a bad drop of beer in here, their stuff covers so much ground and is so unique. they have a wood fired kitchen here too with some pretty incredible pizzas, and they do some bread and cheese type stuff too, the pizza we had was world class, just not a ton of diversity on the food menu. i loved sitting outside and taking in the sights and sounds, as well as more than a reasonable amount of beer with my buddies. the service was great here and the ambiance unbeatable. ill be back for sure, this is one of my favorite breweries in the world!
May 29, 2018
Photo of flagmantho
Reviewed by flagmantho from Washington

4.9/5  rDev +10.4%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 5 | service: 4.75 | selection: 5
I visited Scratch Brewing while driving through southern Illinois upon the recommendation of the folks up at White Rooster. It's a bit out of the way, but boy howdy was it worth it.

I don't usually write novels when I review places here on BeerAdvocate, but man oh man. This one brewery made the entire trip worth it. After having a taster tray of 4, I had to have another to sample everything they had on tap. From the lemongrass pale to the squash mild to the black turmeric saison, every beer I had was amazing. Just outstanding. Almost every beer has ingredients foraged from the brewery's back forty, with things like fermented acorns and paw paws, and others have ingredients sourced super-locally.

They really take the time to craft amazing beers. These things are works of art. They use wild fermentations; they have a giant copper kettle that they brew in over an open fire; this is about as rustic and farmhouse-y as you get. And while I love the philosophy and story behind the place, it really is the quality of beer that sets Scratch apart. I left with as many different bottles as I could reasonably take with me.

I will absolutely be coming back to Scratch, and I will be bringing people with me. It's a bit remote to get to, especially from Seattle, but I know it will be worth it; I'm already itching to return.
May 06, 2018
Rated: 4.29 by crow from Illinois

Jan 07, 2018
Photo of SD-Alefan
Reviewed by SD-Alefan from South Dakota

4.68/5  rDev +5.4%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 5
Maybe the coolest setting ever for a brewery. Near a national forest, you must traverse a narrow country lane to get to this brewery. They feature ingredients grown and foraged onsite in their beer and food. The setting and buildings are rustic, the locale is beautiful.
Quality is top notch as the beers are clearly made with care.
The service was excellent as the staff knows their stuff and enjoys talking about it and they're friendly and open.
They had about a 10 beers on tap from IPAs to Saisons to sours, most enhanced with local ingredients.
The beers I tried were excellent.
The food is great. The bread and the pizza, cooked in a wood-fired oven, are required eating.
An amazing place.
Sep 11, 2017
Rated: 4.43 by kylehay2004 from Illinois

Sep 10, 2017
Photo of emerge077
Reviewed by emerge077 from Illinois

4.74/5  rDev +6.8%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.75 | food: 4.25
Making a pilgrimage to Scratch is a worthwhile adventure. Set aside a couple days, take the backroads and enjoy the ride. Literally situated "out in the woods", it's just an incredibly unique place.

Imagine my surprise when the gravel lot is packed and there were even a couple tour buses...uh oh. Turns out it was the wedding of some brewery friends, and luckily the event hall was separate from the taproom. It was still busy, but not bad at all.

Inside the taproom it's fairly small but packed with eclectic woodsy decor behind the bar, shelves with jars full of dried herbs, old port bottles, a stuffed pheasant, et cetera. A large mural of a mythical beast decorates the largest wall, I think it might be the Piasa monster of regional folklore. In the back there's a few strings across the room with bundles of drying herbs and plants, which fits right in to their foraging aesthetic. Outside there's a patio lined with old bricks and flagstone rock steps, beware of copperheads and poison ivy, we saw both.

The beers were great. Highlights included a "cedar stout" that was more of a rustic woody wild ale, and a very impressive wet-hopped IPA made with their own farm-grown Chinooks. Also very interesting was a gooseberry saison and wild carrot Berliner weisse. Experimentation runs high, so expect some unique stuff. I didn't love everything, the hen of the woods wee heavy wasn't for me, but I enjoyed everything else they had.

Service was good, the owners were out of town and they had some younger staff working there. They knew the menu but that was about it. One guy explained they use a house sourdough culture in most of the sour beers. I've since been lucky to meet the brewers at a Beer Temple event they hosted. Aaron and Marika are as unpretentious as possible, and have an amazing wealth of knowledge.

The food menu here was limited but very good. The margherita pizza was excellent with just the right amount of char on the crust. Wanted to try their cheese plate but there was already enough pizza to go around.

Scratch is a very unique place, probably the most unique brewery i've ever been to. Highly recommended if traveling anywhere near southern Illinois, it's worth the detour. I'm glad we get some of their beers sporadically in Chicago, and i'm looking forward to future local drafts at Beer Temple and Local Option.

Place review #1000
Aug 14, 2017
Photo of nasal
Rated by nasal from Illinois

5/5  rDev +12.6%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5
No better place on Earth exists for drinking beer. Every single thing they make is magic.
Jul 23, 2017
Rated: 4.06 by lemmy187 from Missouri

May 22, 2017
Rated: 5 by brights from Illinois

Mar 23, 2017
Rated: 4.36 by Ctb6582 from Maryland

Dec 24, 2016
Rated: 3.99 by CaseyWilkins from Illinois

Dec 08, 2016
Rated: 4.67 by craft_shannie from Indiana

Mar 06, 2016
Rated: 4.04 by slipperysoup from Illinois

Nov 17, 2015
Photo of bnes09
Reviewed by bnes09 from Illinois

4.44/5  rDev 0%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.25 | food: 4.25
To get there, you drive down a one lane road, arriving at a small gravel parking lot in the middle of the woods surrouded by overgrown weeds. From the back of the lot, the way to the entrance in unclear. I walk towards the largest building and stumble upon a wooden pathway constructed with thin pallets. I find the door, walk into a small room with a few tables and one small, crowded bar with about 8 taps. While waiting to order, I study the chalkboard which showcases 7 different offerings. Staff is friendly and helpful. I didn't have time to chat and discuss how the beers are made due to the line behind me. They all seemed very willing to talk, had time allowed. They have a covered picnic table area outside with multiple levels and a gravel floor. The occasional debris will fall from the trees above, hitting the steel roof , and creating a noise resembling a rifle shot. I drank the hickory stout and blackberry sour. I'm happy to say I enjoyed them both. Overall, a pleasant experience and quality beer.

Edit 10/29/17:
With each subsequent visit, my experience gets better and better. I have probably tasted between 40-50 of their beers over maybe 8-10 visits. Scratch has recently become my favorite brewery, not just in Illinois or US, but anywhere. Their uniqueness, originality, experimentation, and foraging are unlike any other brewery I've ever heard of. And it's all quality!

The rustic, woodsy setting is perfect and compliments everything they do. The only downside is parking becomes a bit of an issue with larger events like Oktoberfest and their anniversary parties. I prefer to visit on non-event weekends. They added the "serpent" room a couple of years ago for larger events. The artwork is really neat and its nice to have the extra space.

Service has been good each time I've been. They have a few younger folks manning the bar and food area. They are friendly, knowledgeable and attentive for the most part.

Selection is outstanding considering the variety of beers they brew. I can't imagine a style they won't attempt and you always know they will give it a Scratch-like makeover like no one else has before. 8-10 tap selections and they will do a flight of any 4 for $10. They have no flagship beer and the selection is ALWAYS changing. They also have several (3-5) bottle selections available to go. These also rotate frequently. They even had several sodas which are quite enjoyable. I enjoy the peach soda and chai tea.

I have had several of their pizzas which were all great. I really enjoy the oil they put on them (although it has made my fiance sick a couple times). Toppings are great and they were always cooked perfectly with a mildly burnt crust. Have also had their sourdough bread which was wonderful.

Outstanding place to relax, reflect, naturalize and enjoy some unique, rustic beers. If you are anywhere close, it is well worth the trip.
Aug 16, 2015
Rated: 4.75 by atlbravsrno1 from Maine

Mar 25, 2015
Rated: 4.13 by dt_gbpackersfan from Missouri

Jan 19, 2015
Rated: 3.4 by cadizkyguy from Kentucky

Nov 28, 2014
Rated: 4.5 by ADG2995 from Missouri

Oct 17, 2014
Rated: 5 by Fatty_Mccracken from Illinois

Aug 23, 2014
Rated: 4.25 by ASTMONATE from Illinois

Jul 15, 2014
Photo of Mattco
Reviewed by Mattco from Illinois

4.3/5  rDev -3.2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5
Great local brewery that brews some of the most innovative beers I've ever had the pleasure of tasting.

Pros: Wide variety of beers always available on draft, Amazing wood fired brick oven pizzas made to order, Knowledgeable and friendly staff that love to talk beer, Great atmosphere for children (outdoor focused, chickens and goats on premises), Growlers available to go, many more.

Cons: Located in the middle of the woods down a gravel road, pretty far out of the way, Small tasting room can get extremely busy on nice afternoons, An afternoon of flights and pizzas can get a little pricey.

Overall an amazing place that an entire family can enjoy.
Jun 19, 2014
Rated: 4.5 by jaminjohnson from Canada (YT)

Apr 25, 2014
Photo of Colinj001
Reviewed by Colinj001 from Virginia

3.84/5  rDev -13.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3.5 | service: 5 | selection: 3
Awesome place if you are in the area! It is a few miles off a main road in the middle of nowhere. Their beers are unique to say the least. They grow and forage whatever ingredients they can! Their taps change regularly and the quality of their product is on par with that of their friends Perennial Artisan Ales! I will definitely be returning next time I am anywhere near Ava. If available, one must try the Bourbon Barrel Wheat Wine!
Feb 01, 2014
Photo of Snowrs
Reviewed by Snowrs from Indiana

4.75/5  rDev +7%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 4.75 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5
Off the beaten path, but well worth the hunt. In the middle of rural S. Illinois, I really didn't know what to expect with this brewery. It sits nestled in what looks to be gardens with a large patio with ample seating. The tasting room is cozy and very inviting. The service was excellent and couldn't want for more.

I tried all 9 beers on tap and there was not a single bad beer. I actually took 2 growlers home and my wife liked the Ginger Ale so much she took that home as well.

The food right now is limited to bread and cheese plates along with some sliced meats and chips. They are supposed to have a pizza oven soon which will be a great addition.

I really enjoyed my time there and will be back again as soon as possible. A great hidden gem in S. Ill.
Sep 29, 2013
Photo of peabody
Reviewed by peabody from Kentucky

4.11/5  rDev -7.4%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4 | selection: 4.25 | food: 3.75
This is one great hole in the wall brewery. Well off the beaten path the first thing you see is old oak signs guiding you to the hop garden and tasting palace. As you walk down the artsy flat stone homemade stairs you notice lots of area to sit outside and enjoy company and beer. Fireplaces and campfireplaces adorn the large patio. As you walk in the door you are confronted by a very large drawing of a serpent/monster. Various local art adorns these walls and the tables and bar tops are chalkboards taken from a local school so you can leave your art too. You then see the corner bar with 10 tap handles and rows of mason jars filled with dried forest ingredients on shelfs above the bar. This is where you want to be. With an everchanging beer list you never know what will be offered. There were 9 beers there the day I went. All were very clean/crisp and individual in flavor.
The Forest Ale was such a great experience. Who knew the woods would taste so darn good.
Very friendly people wait on you and they are knowledgeable on all parts of the brewing process and are glad to talk brewing with you. Wish there were lots of these places near me but I guess that makes Scratch Brewing Company even more special and unique.
I have never been to brewery where I liked every offering but every beer I had was very good. Great job.
Sep 21, 2013
Photo of pointyskull
Reviewed by pointyskull from Illinois

4.88/5  rDev +9.9%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 3.75
Yes, I know it appears I went overboard with the 5.0 ratings but I can't say enough good things about the location and/or the beer. Just an absolutely idyllic experience all the way around, from both the intimate surroundings to the quality of brew (which uses locally grown ingredients).

Set seemingly in the middle of nowhere (at least to this out-of-town visitor) it was a bit tough to find, but well worth the hunt. I wish I lived in the area so I could make it my regular hangout.

We did a flight of their current offerings, highlights of which were a lemongrass saison, a wine-barrel-aged porter and a chili-coffee amber. We followed this with pints of the saison and porter, and a growler to go.

If I had to find a nitpick - and it is really difficult - it would be that the growlers (which were a bit pricey, but understood given the small batch quantities) are not the typically 64 oz size, but instead were just 1 qt. The growler bottles themselves looked great - just wished they were larger.
Jun 03, 2013