The small town of Ava, Illinois isn’t the first place you’d think of when it comes to beer, but nestled among sprawling farms and single lane back country roads, a new kind of brewery has sprung up out of the imagination of three home brewers turned business entrepreneurs. Scratch Brewing Company is both unconventional and purposely out-of-the-way, but more than anything else it’s refreshing. Their beer is brewed using local ingredients that are either foraged from the surrounding country, plucked from the garden outside, or imported from St. Louis. Nothing is brewed in large quantities, which means there’s a constantly changing beer list.
Since Scratch has become my fathers favorite brewery as of late, we made the two-hour journey south to meet my aunt and uncle there for lunch. While they currently don’t boast a large menu, their recently constructed wood fire means there’s a lot of pizza experimentation happening, and the likelihood of a growing menu in the near future. The two pizzas we got were delicious. The first was a cayenne pepper infused olive oil pizza with honey, goat cheese, and salami that was consumed despite complaints about it being spicy. The second was a much more tame goat cheese, olive oil, and fresh herb pizza that was no less delicious with my Lotus Seed Farm House Ale.
With all the furniture having been salvaged or created from other items, there’s an eclectic and charming feel to the brewery you’re not likely to find anywhere else. If you’re lucky, there might be a rousing game of chicken shit bingo happening (which is exactly what it sounds like), or you can always take a short walk over to visit three of the most adorable goats I’ve seen and the chicken coop nearby. Everything here really does make you feel like you’ve stepped completely off the grid, but the delicious beer, good eats, and friendly people are more than enough to make up for anything else you’ve come to love from a brewery in the city.