The Old Stag Brewery’s Legacy, Belleville

East St. Louis and Belleville 093

There’s not much left of the old Stag Brewery in the northwest corner of the historic central area of Belleville. There’s the office building, which looks to be from around the 1940’s, and the warehouse complex below, which provides access to truck and railroad connections.  The brewery closed in the 1980’s and was largely demolished in 1996.  It was a poor decision.

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As can be seen below, the now demolished brewery buildings rivaled the beauty of the Anheuser-Busch or Lemp Breweries (and were probably designed by the same architects).


The demolition is a shame, considering the brewery once dominated the city with its august smokestack and brew house.  Originally known as the Western Brewery (not to be confused with the Lemps’ brewery of the same name in St. Louis) and operated by Adam Gintz, and eventually a branch of the Griesediecks.  The beer changed names from “Kaiser” to “Stag” following a competition offered to customers.  What I found fascinating is that while the brewery is gone, the working-class neighborhood with its simple but proud housing stock is still standing.

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Simple roofs lines with a dormer or two, with some light brick corbeling and a couple of windows are really the only ornaments to these houses.  They show that Belleville was an important city in its early days, and not just a suburb of St. Louis.  The houses and bar here show how prosperous of a town the brewery helped Belleville become.  This is still not a wealthy part of the town, but it is still well-maintained and cared for.

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  1. I wonder if the Stag beer of today tastes like the Stag of yore? It was certainly an acquired taste – at least to those of us on the St. Louis side of the river. One of my uncles would only drink Stag and suffered many taunts because of it.

    • Supposedly Stag went back to the original recipe back in original recipe in 2007(ish). From what I remember they were trying to market it as recapturing the glory days when men were men and yadda yadda yadda.

  2. I grew up in Belleville in the mid 1980’s, and rode my bike all over town–east side and west. I only wish I would have taken more pictures! We always joked Belleville was a working-man’s town and you could (literally) find a bar on just about every street corner, especially in many of the neighborhoods.

  3. The area between Richland creek and 16th Street, “F” to the railroad tracks, is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. There are 700 properties within those boundaries of which 500 some are considered contributing to the historic sense of the district. Latin Farmer Theodore Hilgard subdivided his 134 acre farm and laid out residential lots in the 1830’s. The essence of the Original Town of West Belleville, which it was called between 1852 and 1882 when it was annexed to Belleville, is the simple style of the soft brick German American Street House .Hilgard’s son, Edward, a soil scientist, would later play an important role in advancing the wine industry in southern California in the early 1900’s. Also, the first attempt to form a national labor union, the American Miners Association, was formed in 1861 by the striking miners of West Belleville. It would last until 1869. It took 7 years and three consultants to gain the approval of Illinois Historic Preservation Agency and the federal government to designate the area a new district. Thanks to the city of Belleville, Mayor Mark Eckert , city council, and staffer Eric Schauster for getting the job done.

  4. Stag beer now does not taste like I remember it tasting, much smoother now. Great article-thanks!

  5. Grandparents lived a few blocks from the old brewery in a house similar to the one pictured. Stag beer was in the fridge if you wanted. Keep the family working. Granddad passed on in 1978, the house was sold and I haven’t been back since. Thanks for the pictures and bringing back some happy memories.

  6. My Dad, three uncles, and a cousin worked at Stag Brewery. Their employment totaled over 100 years of experience. Stag was very important to our family.

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