The Old Stag Brewery’s Legacy, Belleville

East St. Louis and Belleville 093

Update: The building above, and possibly other portions of the brewery not already demolished in 1996, have now been destroyed sometime in between February 2014 and June 2019, when I returned to the site for a second time. The Adam Gintz House, the residence of the founder of the brewery, has also been callously demolished. See more of the neighborhoods around the brewery’s site in this post from June of 2019.

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.

East St. Louis and Belleville 087

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.

East St. Louis and Belleville 088

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.

East St. Louis and Belleville 090

21 Comments Add yours

  1. Tom Maher - Kirkwood says:

    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.

    1. Chris says:

      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.

      1. Chris Naffziger says:

        It really is not bad beer.

  2. Paul says:

    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. Jack Le Chien says:

    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.

    1. Chris Naffziger says:

      Interesting, thanks, Jack!

  4. CECILE SAVANT says:

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

  5. Gene C says:

    I finally found a beer that tasted worse than Stag , Bluemoon

    1. Chris Naffziger says:

      Old Stag or new Stag?

  6. Jim says:

    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.

  7. Diane Owens says:

    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.

    1. gary voegtle says:

      My Grandfather worked there from the time of Kaiser to Stag on the docks

      1. gary voegtle says:

        Carling sorry

  8. Daniel Owen says:

    My great-great-grandfather was Adam Gintz. My grandmother grew up in the house on the brewery property. Her name was Rosa Gintz.

    1. Chris Naffziger says:

      Very cool, Daniel! Do you have any interesting stories or documents from the brewery?

  9. Robert W Mielke says:

    I was born & raised in Belleville, IL and lived on 10th and West Main. That was about 6 blocks from the Stag Brewery. The smell of hops used to make me sick.

    1. Chris Naffziger says:

      Interesting, Robert! Do you have any photographs from back then? I would love to see the old brewery and neighborhood back when it was still in operation.

  10. Heather Atchison says:

    I grew up down the street from the Stag brewing company. My sister and I loved to ride our bikes past the docks. I know in later years, after it shut down, they were holding AA meetings there. Unfortunately I cannot find any of that history. I would love to hear from other people who know about this.

  11. Tom Mueller says:

    I grew up on H Street north of the brewery. We kept time by the daily work whistles. I have a slightly rounded brick from the old smoke which was toppled in 1996.

    1. Chris Naffziger says:

      That’s really cool, Tom! Any pictures?

  12. Bob says:

    My grandfather had a neighborhood bar in the basement of their house and one day when i was about age 7 (1936) he offered me a Stag beer.

Leave a Reply to Chris Naffziger Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.