Staying in the Sandhills Region of Nebraska, this week CornNation is profiling Scratchtown Brewing in Ord. Scratchtown is the first Small Batch Brewery we've profiled this summer. More on what that means later.
If you've missed any of the previous installments in this series, you can check them out here. The series started with Blue Blood Brewing in Lincoln, the brewery that my wife and I invested in at the beginning of this year.
Mike Klimek has been homebrewing for 10 - 12 years now. He is originally from Ord and, after college and a few years of living in Omaha, moved back to Ord and hooked up with Caleb Pollard, who was the Director of Economic Development for Valley County. Caleb liked Mike's beer and had the data on tourism to say that Ord was a great place to start a brewery. Jade Stunkel had been talking with Caleb about starting a brewery, but they were missing a brewer. Mike fit the bill. Scratchtown started brewing test batches in the summer of 2013, and opened the brewery October 4th, 2013.
In the first year, they doubled expectations for production, and it was 18 months before they distributed anywhere besides the taproom.
The water that Scratchtown uses is Ord city water, which comes straight from the Ogallala Aquifer, and is free from chlorine and other chemicals, so they don't have to treat the water in their beer.
The brewery name comes from General EOC Ord. In 1873, General Ord was sent to Nebraska to survey the land for the railroad. It was a wet spring with lots of ravenous bugs. As the team completed their work for the summer, Ord was asked what to name the town that was springing up. He is quoted as saying, "Name it Scratchtown." Ultimately, it was named for him, Ord, but the name of the brewery is a reference to the history of the area.
On September 12th, 2015, Scratchtown will host Scratchtoberfest, a street party with beer, food, and live music in Ord.
The brewery and taproom are located at 141 S. 16th St in Ord. The taproom is open from 4:00 - 10:00 PM on Thursday and Friday, and from 10:00 AM - 10:00 PM Saturday.
Tours are not regularly scheduled, but will be given if there is a person available at the brewery to do so. Ask at the taproom when you order your pint.
Scratchtown's beer is available all the time in the taproom, and at Hy-Vee in Central Nebraska, Lincoln, Omaha, Fremont, and Norfolk, though availability outside of their taproom is limited. All grocery stores in Ord carry their beer, and there are a few off-sale locations around the state that can carry their beer.
Scratchtown is available on draft around Ord and in a few places around Omaha and Lincoln.
Scratchtown is looking at expanding their distribution, but is small batch. In this case, they have a 3 barrel brewhouse (by comparison, the next smallest brewhouse in this series is 10 barrel). That means that there is a rarity to their beer, and also that they cannot guarantee their beer will be available in store. It is, however always available on draft and for off sale in their taproom. The best way to find where they are, in stores or on draft, is to contact the brewery by phone.
Scratchtown's selection of beers changes on a weekly basis, due to the fact that they're small batch. Check their website before you stop by to see what's on draft today!
The beers below are bottled and see limited distribution for off-sale.
- The Lord of Ord - Imperial Oatmeal Stout
- Black Eye - Imperial Porter (Gold medal winner, Porter Category, US Open Beer Championship)
- Wonder Twins - Double IPA
Look for more specially-aged and even an Oktoberfest style through the fall.
I can honestly say I've never had one of their beers. The fact that their regularly distributed series is Imperials and Double IPA tells a beer snob that they are serious about taste and complexity. Imperial Porters and Stouts will have a strong malty character whereas Double IPAs are generally very hoppy, but offset with a sweetness that means it's usually more palatable than many IPAs.