Beemster is Right at Home in Georgia’s Brick Store Pub
Wes Kayyali is a chef at Brick Store Pub in Decatur, Georgia. He practically grew up in the upscale neighborhood tavern, which recently celebrated its 20th birthday. “I helped build the place when I was a little kid,” said Kayyali. He left his hometown to work in a handful of restaurant kitchens around the country, and has been back working at Brick Store for about a decade. When he’s not cooking up something wonderful, Kayyali can be found fishing.
Kayyali is the nephew of one of the Brick Store’s founders. After years of dreaming and planning, friends Dave Blanchard, Mike Gallagher, and Tom Moore opened the place in 1997. Their vision was to create a pub with a serious craft beer selection, (they focus on local brews and imports from Germany, England, and Belgium), great food to savor, and no TVs—only good conversation. Today, the second floor of Brick Store is a Belgian Beer Bar, and their impressive beer cellar holds upwards of 1,000 unique brews.
Brick Store Pub, housed in a beautiful, funky historic building in Decatur’s town square, is at the center of its community. Their support of local breweries has played a huge part in Georgia’s craft beer scene. It’s no wonder Brick Store was named one of Thrillist’s Best Beer Bars in America.
“I love the industry and making people happy with food,” says Kayyali, which is what Brick Store does best. Brick Store Pub serves Southern pub food, “not fancy fine dining stuff,” stresses Kayyali. “We do a lot of BBQ” (think smoked pork butts and fall-off-the-bone racks of ribs). “We braise a lot of meats, we make our own sausages, and we grind our own beef every day,” he explains. “We use the freshest and best ingredients possible.”
It is only natural that Beemster features on Brick Store’s menu—it fits of the bill of authenticity, quality, and accessibility. Kayyali remembers his first bite of Beemster XO: “It was delicious, like no other cheese I’ve ever tried. That nuttiness, that creaminess! It also has a great sweetness to it, like caramel. Overall, it’s a perfect cheese.”
Bernard Willis McKoy runs the cheese and charcuterie program at Brick Store. Although the cheese selection rotates constantly, he always includes one of Beemster’s cheeses on the list. “Beemster XO is one of my favorite cheeses,” McKoy says. “The crunchy crystals and the caramelized flavors pair well with scotch and dark beer. It really stands up to those rich flavors.” Two of McKoy’s all-time favorite pairings are Beemster XO with Leopold Bros. American Small Batch Whiskey and Beemster XO Founders Backwoods Bastard, an ale aged in bourbon barrels.
Chef Kayyali loves coming up with new ways to use Beemster cheese on Brick Store Pub’s menu. “It’s an easy cheese to pair with beer, fruit, nuts, meat,” he says. “It goes well with just about anything. The versatility is incredible. I like shredding it and mixing a big batch of mac and cheese. It’s perfect for sauces: it doesn’t separate and it melts beautifully.”
Beemster XO can be found in Brick Store’s addictive cheese tartlet, or melted over seared flank steak and pears, or served on a lovely quail special. We can’t wait to see what Kayyali and his team cook up next.
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