One of the many pleasures of heading south to visit my wife’s family in Southern Illinois, as we did last weekend, is arriving in Stag beer country. Stag, once brewed in nearby Belleville, IL, just outside St. Louis, is now brewed by Pabst. Click the logo above, and you’ll get the official Pabst page, which has a link to the history of Stag and several other old time beers.
Stag is distributed only in in Illinois, from Peoria south, Missouri and part of Arkansas, according to the Pabst site. It’s cheap, refreshing and you can’t swing a fried catfish without hitting a little town with a little bar where it’s served ice cold.
Speaking of catfish, I had a heaping pile of battered beauties, at a place called Crazy Joe’s Fish House. It’s got an Ava, IL, address but it’s essentially in the middle of nowhere. If you’re ever in that neck of the woods, have a local guide you along the hilly country roads that take you there.
The joint serves fried seafood, including catfish, whitefish and shrimp, frog legs and cajun crawfish tails, to name a few selections. It’s good stuff, especially with Joe’s spicy special sauce that’s seemingly a combo of salsa, Tabasco and ketchup. A medical poster on the wall detailing the stages of heart disease is a nice touch, along with lots of cool, vintage beer signs.
And of course, they serve Stag. Two bucks a can. Order it and you’ll be mistaken for a local.