New Stockton brewery offers beers, barbecue

STOCKTON, Ill — Mud Run Beer Co. opened its doors this week, serving food and drinks from what was once a movie theater in downtown Stockton.

Owners Kevin and Amanda Pierce have been dreaming about starting a brewery for years.

Kevin Pierce said he stumbled upon homebrewing eight years ago. The couple began working to acquire the 124 Main St. location in 2017.

“It was just a small kit that graduated to a five gallon rather quickly, which then graduated to a 15 gallon rather quickly,” Kevin Pierce said. “Now we have a three-barrel brew system at the pub.”

Currently, the brewery offers nine Mud Run lagers and ales on tap, though the Pierces hope to expand. “Blackhawk Road,” a farmhouse lager, is named after the road leading to the farm where Kevin Pierce grew up outside of Stockton.

Other Mud Run offerings include “Livin’ the Dreamsicle” and “124 Main Wheat.”

Other beverages, including wine and spirits, are also available.

“We understand some people like craft beer and enjoy the company of those that don’t,” Amanda Pierce said.

The kitchen serves smoked chicken, pork and brisket. The food part of the business also started as a hobby for Kevin Pierce. He began smoking meats after his brother started entering barbecue competitions.

“It felt pretty natural to include the barbecue and smoked meats,” Kevin Pierce said.

Starting next week, Mud Run will be open Wednesday through Sunday evenings.

Before they could open the business, the Pierces renovated the building. Marci Schubert, a board member of the Stockton Chamber of Commerce, said the building has a lot of history.

It once housed a movie theater. While renovating, the Pierces found old Stockton Theatre movie tickets listing admission prices at 27 cents including tax.

The couple also found burn marks on the floor from a 1971 fire. The two decided to leave those marks visible.

“It was basically a shell,” Amanda Pierce said. “I don’t know how many years it sat empty.”

“We resurrected it,” her husband said.

The building includes a 900-square-foot backdoor patio. The second level, which seats 80 people, will be available for rentals.

The Pierces hope the business will bring tourists to Stockton.

“We want to serve our community for sure, but we’d love to bring people into our community,” Amanda Pierce said. “That would be the most rewarding for me. … We want to show off our community a little bit.”

Schubert, who will occasionally serve as a bartender at the business, said she believes the brewery will help bring people to downtown Stockton.

“It’s huge for the area,” Schubert said.