The Scratch's motto is "No pretension, no dress code and no pub cover bands". The small bar is a cosy, chilled, shabby-chic addition to Milton's wining 'n' dining Park Road precinct, an area once better known for metre-long pizzas, espressos and relatively diminutive Eiffel towers. All of which stood in the shadow of that commercial brick beer-hemoth, the XXXX Brewery.
However, the self-proclaimed dive bar that is The Scratch has helped bring a younger, no-nonsense crowd back to the strip. It is the antithesis of almost anything else nearby, especially the brewery. The Scratch eschews typical brewery/brand relationships (i.e. the same old bland major-chain beer taps you find in, like, every pub) for a constant rotation of their tap beers every few days — all of them flavoursome craft varieties.
As you may have guessed, the bar is a fairly beer-y establishment. You feel like you ought to have a beard whenever you walk in the door. Schooners range from about $8-$11. We tried such colourfully titled drops as Western Australian IPA Feral Hop Hog and Queensland's Bacchus Hazelnut Brown. In the past they've had ales infused with anything from chocolate to watermelon and chilli. But fear not, non-beer drinkers — there's myriad ciders, wine and spirits on offer, too.
To add to its kerbside collection-furnished glory, The Scratch also offers free BYO food. It makes for quite the boon, with no shortage of great eats within very short walking/stumbling distance. If you're not quite that peckish but wouldn't mind a nibble of somethin'-somethin', the bar also offers free peanuts (proper ones, with the crack-'em-yourself shells still on).
For something a little more dessert-y, they sell variously sized cheese platters and ice-cream — in their own house-styled flavours. You guessed it, beer-infused ice-cream heads up the list (with its specific beer flavour changing as regularly as the taps). Or why not try a "Cider Spider" or a stout milkshake? Because ... well, why the hell not.
So if you've garnered a hearty thirst after work or on a Saturday afternoon and aren't necessarily wearing your Sunday best, drop on in and support some small, independent brewers.