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Stag Beer was first brewed before your granddad was born, just across the mighty Mississippi from St. Louis in a town called Belleville, Illinois. Stag’s roots run deep in the Midwest as a beer for the strong and independently minded. Stag is brewed for those who appreciate the Midwestern way of life – people who aren’t afraid of getting some dirt under their fingernails and barbecue sauce on their shirt. Stag’s malty character stands up to steak, taters, and gravy, while crisp American hops are corralled by a smooth finish that makes Stag the only beer for a hot summer day on the river. Getting thirsty? Time to go hunt down a Stag.
Phillip Neu and Peter Gintz founded one of the first breweries in Illinois, based in Belleville. The brewery produced only about 2,000 barrels of beer annually, most of which was sold in the Belleville and East St. Louis areas.
Four partners purchased the brewery, renaming it the Western Brewery and growing production to 20,000 barrels by the 1880s.
The Western Brewery was producing 40,000 barrels of beer annually, led by Stag’s predecessor, which was originally called “Kaiser” as a nod to the rich brewing culture of German-American immigrants in the 1800s.
By 1907, the Kaiser name had fallen out of popularity (WWI was around the corner), and Western Brewery held a contest to rename their flagship beer. $25 in gold was awarded to George E. Wuller of Belleville for the winning name – Stag Beer.
Sad days were ahead – the Western Brewery was forced to close during Prohibition.
The Griesedieck (“GREE za deck") family purchased the brewery after the repeal of Prohibition, propelling Stag into a period of rapid growth.
Stag was the top-selling beer in the St. Louis area, outselling both Falstaff and Budweiser, and fueling expansion.
Griesedieck Western completed construction on the iconic Stag Beer brewery smokestack. Standing 225 feet tall with the words “STAG BEER” spanning the uppermost 44-feet, the smokestack was a defining monument in Belleville’s skyline for over forty years.
Griesedieck Western, then the 13th-largest brewery in the U.S., was purchased by the Carling Brewery from Cleveland, Ohio, kicking off a series of brewery acquisitions that would continue through the 1990’s.
After being acquired by Heileman and then by the Stroh Brewing Company, Stag Beer found its home with the Pabst Brewing Company.
Stag Beer earned a Gold Medal for best American-Style Lager at the 2005 Great American Beer Festival.