10 of the Country’s Most Interesting Breweries
Scratch Brewing Co.
Have you heard the one about three friends who open a brewery? They brew beer from scratch, foraging for ingredients from the Southern Illinois woods in which the brewery sits, so they call it Scratch Brewing. One year they bring only beers made from parts of trees to serve at the Great American Beer Festival, another year all mushroom beers. They even win a medal for one, and the line to taste their beers is 25 deep.
The story is irresistible, and publications from across the country have repeated it. But the best part of this story happens every weekend in the brewery tasting room (and sprawling patio), when locals show up to drink locally brewed beer made from locally grown ingredients, cultivated or foraged. Mark Jilg brews beer far away, at Craftsman Brewing outside Los Angeles, but he understands what is happening. “This is the mirror. When you go out and forage, you see the world differently,” he says. “The mirror is when the consumer drinks the beer, [she] thinks this came from the world that is mine.”
Aaron Kleidon and Marika Josephson at Scratch, as well as a growing number of like-minded brewers in other outposts, are expanding drinkers’ understanding of what beer can be. Jeremy Phoenix, who grew up and still lives near the brewery, is one of them. He drank only light lagers before Scratch opened; he didn’t think about what was used to make his beer. Now? “I’ve learned to look at trees and grass and think, ‘Oh, that would make good beer.’”