While I was on my travels to various places around the world, I thought to myself ‘Wouldn’t it be great if I had a Lonely Planet style book that would tell me where to go for a good drop?’. There are plenty of websites out there to find that information, but what I wanted was the hard facts; opening times, number of taps, variety, food etc. With that question still lingering in my mind, I decided to start up the “Lonely Pint” (see what I did there…) and highlight, in a travel guide fashion, the great places to drink in Brisbane. If you are new to this fair city, here on vacation, or just new to the whole Good Beer scene and would like to know where to go to explore deeper into it, this will hopefully be helpful.
Today, we look at a place where I first whet my “craft” chops: The Scratch
Address: 8/1 Park Road, Milton
Hours of Operation: Midday to Midnight, 7days/week
Seating Capacity: 60 Seating – 100 total
Date Opened: 25 November, 2011
Number of Taps: 6 taps including 1 hand pump
Bottle Selection: 100-120 any given week
Price Range per Glass: $8-$16
Wine’s and Spirits/Cocktails?: 6 rotating wines, 20 rotating Single Malt Whiskey’s, a few spirits (no cocktails and no shots)
Owners: Ben, Kieran, and Shev
Bar Manager: Tim “World’s Greatest Dad” Goulding
The Good Stuff
Scratch may only have a total of 6 taps, but that doesn’t mean there is a lack of choice. These taps are constantly changing over, so coming in on a Monday and then again on a Tuesday can be a completely different taste experience. They put a great deal of emphasis on serving a lot of Australia based beers, with a great deal of them coming from right here in Queensland. Top quality foreign imports are frequent. Scratch does what they can to be a bit of everything to for everybody. A few lines will contain some more accessible, session beers, as others will pour the hit-you-in-the-face-with-something brews for the more adventurous. Of the 6, one is reserved for ciders, with stuff coming from 2 Brothers and Willie Smiths, just to name a few.
The bottle selection is ace and runs every style from lagers to darks, and extremes.
Food at Scratch comes in two forms: cheese and peanuts. Basically, load up on some delicious eats from some of the nearby restaurants, or order some food and bring it in. Scratch allows BYOF (as long as you clean up after yourself). The cheese is worth a look though, as they source it locally and even go down and help in the process of it.
Beer infused Ice Cream is one of the most interesting things, however. Local ice creamery ‘Lick!’ put together creative combinations of flavour which change over on a regular basis. Cider Spiders and stout milkshakes are also available to help beat the Queensland heat.
The atmosphere and staff are what really sets Scratch apart. When you walk in, you get a kind of hipster/bohemian vibe about the place, which can make you think the bartenders are going to be pretentious, beer wankers. These (mostly) bearded individuals are far from it though. A strong love for top quality beer really shines through as you ask about whats on tap for the day. Immediately, you’ll be sampling what’s on (pretty much mandatory) while they’re discussing what you should be expecting to taste and smell, who makes it, and where it’s from. If you don’t catch them when the bar is packed, they are also some of the nicest folks just to chat to as well.
Despite the smaller venue size, you’ll find the Scratch always knee-deep in any of the numerous beer festivals that hit Brisbane, including Brewsvegas and Craft Beer Rising.
If there is a place to learn about good beer, it’s Scratch. One of leaders of the charge for good beer education in Brisbane, they’ve helped convert and tutor many people on the basic and finer points of beer. You can ask a question and be assured that they’re happy to answer it for you. They’ve now taken it to the next level as well with the new Saturday ‘Alementary’ sessions, with weekly talks from industry experts on topics like hop varieties and proper glassware. There’s even a “diploma” in beer education for attending 5 of the sessions!
The Inside Scoop (from Co-owner Kieran Ryan)
Who is the typical punter that comes into The Scratch?
We don’t really have a typical punter. One of the great things about this venue is the total variety of people that come through our door. People of all ages and walks of life seem to be getting in to the good beer movement, and they are all welcome here. That said, we may have no dress code, but we do have a no dickheads policy.
How do you select the beers on tap and what goes into the selection process?
We spend countless hours per week on the phone and email sourcing new and interesting brews from QLD, Australia and around the world. We are more or less opening to giving any new beer a run, so long as it is an independently owned and crafty brew. We try to keep an even spread on the taps and work for a happy marriage between sessional ales and lagers, and high octane palate-wreckers and bowel-destroying black monster-brews. All we aim for is to keep hunting down new beers to hang on our trophy wall of awesomeness.
What makes The Scratch unique from other beer venues?
Besides the fact we provide (obligatory) tasters on arrival, and pour 400+ unique beers in a calendar year, you can always expect a 50% chance of peanut overdose.
Any other interesting facts or stories about The Scratch?
The Scratch was built on an ancient bush ranger’s burial ground, all Scratch staff live together, and our favourite collective movie is Dumb and Dumber.
* Sidenote: Probably the best answer to this question, yet! *
A shout out to Kieran for taking the time to help out!
Want to see all the Lonely Pint entries? Check it out, right here!