We are stoked to announce that our Snipe Hunter American-style Barleywine won Bronze at the Best of Craft Beer Awards in Bend, Oregon. Our humble Sandhills brewery was the only Nebraska brewery to medal in this year’s event, a feat that’s been the case for the second year in the row. For the 2018 judging, the competition included over 2,000 entries, from 44 states and 3 foreign countries that included Colombia, Canada, and Belgium. Judges awarded 245 gold, silver, and bronze medals to 152 brewery locations in a total of 86 categories.

The Best of Craft Beer Awards is now the US’s third largest competition. We’ve been fortunate to bring home five medals in the past three years at two of the three largest competitions in the country: Gold at the 2015 US Open (Imperial Porter), Silver at the 2016 US Open (Imperial Porter), Gold at the 2017 Best of Craft Beer Awards (Imperial Porter), Gold at the 2017 US Open (Imperial Porter) and Bronze this year for Snipe Hunter. Scratchtown is one of Nebraska’s most awarded breweries now in the past five years, and the only Sandhills’ brewery that has medaled at any event in the past three years. I’m a firm believer great people make great companies, and without our production team of Mike and Shay cranking out killer beers, this wouldn’t be possible. Cheers!


Breaking Bread

Remember me? It’s been a fortnight or two since we’ve posted here, but I felt the time had come for some news from us at SBC.

Last night we collaborated with one of our own – Melanie Boden – to host a beer supper at her new downtown venue: Jubilee Events & Catering. Together, we shared a supper with 50 of our closest friends in our first beer dinner we’ve been able to do in Ord since opening. To say this was a dream of mine when we opened SBC years ago would be an understatement; I’ve wanted to do this for over six years. Breaking bread is a common theme in our life, a common mission here at SBC and the intent behind our event. We were excited to see how the event was received.

Melanie & Mike share flavor profiles and pairing suggestions.

The evening was full of incredible fare, as we shared a multi-course supper that focused on fall flavor pairings between beer and food. The quality and consistency of the meal was perfect. And while the focus of the event was this delicious collaboration, the most valuable outcome was breaking bread together. Breaking bread. Simple but powerful.

Since we opened our doors, we’ve dedicated ourselves to building community amid a society of newly invented disconnection. Technological advancements, as wonderful as they are, have given us more impression points but at the cost of deteriorating relationships. We know more people, are connected in the ether is some tenuous way, yet the value of our relationships are not what they once were. Quantity has surpassed quality. Last night, without interruption, we broke bread together and enjoyed the quality of our time together. That means something.

Pouring Workin’ Man Dortmunder Export Lager

I’ve spent a great deal of time thinking, working and building community since I was 20 years old. And one specific aspect of the physical, built community that is essential to any place is the concept of Third Spaces. We need these places as a hub for community to come together; without them we are work-robots moving from home to work to home again, without the enrichment of community gathering or social engagement. Social media is a poor vaporware attempt at being a third space without the actual physicality of being present with other humans. And it’s failing us. We need third spaces to be together, as a commUNITY.

Often, community builders and economic developers have their sights set on attracting, growing and developing job creators. There is no argument of the value of growing the private sector; it’s imperative. Yet rarely is the third space, the communal hub, a priority in building community. Engagement is a buzzword that is bandied about constantly, yet I really don’t think very many folks understand without somewhere in which to come together, engagement is critically impossible.

So what am I going on about? Perhaps we need to take a step back in this really weird, divided time we live in and ask ourselves the question: where are we engaging our community? Is it online, or are we going to start focusing on building spaces where true engagement and relationship quality is grown and developed? Many of you have often heard me say: Scratchtown is a place where people come together to break bread, our bread happens to be beer. Last night was a beautiful night for that, and I want to personally thank Melanie and her team, Mike and our production team, and those that joined us for making it so wonderful. This truly has been a dream come true and I can’t wait to have you back at our table. Bringing America back together has to start around the supper table. As it always has.

An old friend often says in his restaurant: “we’ll set the table – you bring the conversation.” Here’s to the next time we break bread together.


Communal table – breaking bread together.


Nebraska prides itself on it’s business friendly atmosphere. It’s been the core of every single Governor’s talking points I can remember. If you examine the efforts made in the past three years, you’ll see considerable momentum to grow the Nebraska beer industry.Several industry groups and legislators worked together to pass LB1105 last year that deregulated certain aspects of the market that were impediments to Nebraska brewing growth. With those impediments removed, that’s exactly what happened as the industry exploded with new and highly respected brewers opening up across the state. Existing breweries opened new taprooms. They invested millions of dollars and created hundreds of jobs. This is the perfect example of a policy working.

Then came 2017, as the year is not shaping up to be craft-friendly at all. Our industry “partners” from the Associated Beverage Distributors of Nebraska (ABDN) have proposed legislative changes in LB632 that will severely limit craft beers’ ability to continue to grow in our state. It will kill jobs, investment and the momentum the industry has had since it’s upswing.

LB632 does many things but at it’s core it is anti-Nebraska Craft Beer. Provisions in it will not allow us or any other brewer to open any other locations that were granted to us in 2016 (up to five satellite locations for the brewery). The same provisions were agreed upon a year ago with ABDN, yet now they want to move the goal posts. This effort was also completed in secret without any input from the affected licensees and despite all our efforts to work collaboratively with our ABDN (associated beverage distributors of Nebraska) “partners”. Furthermore, this bill proposed a licensure freeze as of 1/1/17, which absolutely affects the expansion plans of two Nebraska craft brewers.

It’s an attack on Nebraska craft brewers plain and simple.

What can you do? Contact your State Senators and express your displeasure with this bill and offer your support of Nebraska Craft beer. Below are some suggestions to use when you contact your Senator (phone or email) and use the hashtag #DontKillOurCraft on your social media efforts.

— This bill is a job killer: It will curtail the expansion of the craft beer industry and impair our ability to invest in our communities, in agribusiness that supports our industry, and in manufacturing that supports our work.
— This bill was negotiated in secret without the input of industry partners and moved the goalposts established a year ago.
— This bill strips away existing rights that will likely lead to litigation against the state and impose a liability on the state coffers.

It makes me wonder personally what motivated the distribution industry in the first place? Perhaps it could be the Budweiser or Miller/Coors signs they have hanging on their warehouses? Not all of these folks are anti-craft, but many of them are and they’ve toeing the corporate line with the megaconglomerate they’re owned by. “Indepedently” owned they are not. They are anti-Nebraskan business and are actively working to curtail Nebraska craft brewers. Scratchtown and our fellow Nebraska craft brewers will not be intimidated. #Don’tKillOurCraft

Caleb Pollard
Scratchtown Brewing Company