Over the decade and a half of its existence, Brick Store Pub has grown from a pioneering Decatur business to a defining fixture on the city’s square and a major mecca for craft beer pilgrims from all over the world.
“We’re gonna make a T-shirt, for sure,” Tom Moore said one day sitting at a table at the pub, as his Brick Store partners, Dave Blanchard and Mike Gallagher, mirrored sly smiles.
“That’s a bit of a joke,” Moore explained.
New commemorative T-shirts or not, BSP, which opened June 27, 1997, will mark its 15th anniversary over seven days of memory-making celebrations, beginning June 24 with a fundraiser for the DeKalb History Center and the unveiling of a historic piece of local art.
The remainder of the week will bring out special anniversary dishes each night, created by chef friends from Decatur and beyond, including Drew Belline of No. 246, Billy Allin of Cakes & Ale and Ryan Smith of Empire State South.
“It seems like at 15 we’re celebrating not just our anniversary but the city of Decatur, how great it's been to us, and how much it’s changed,” Gallagher said. “It was a music city, then it was a beer city, but in the past few years, it’s become a food city.”
Of course, there still will be beer, and lots of it. Look for daily offerings of rare, limited-edition and vintage brews, including selections from the remarkable BSP cellar.
Among the lineup: J.W. Lees Harvest Ale aged in a Lagavulin wooden pin cask, Bells Black Note Stout, Allagash Thing 1 and 2, Mikkeller Black, Dogfish Head Bitches Brew and Struisse Black Damnation III.
Five years ago, Moore, Blanchard and Gallagher sat at a similar table and talked about the first 10 years of BSP. The changes of the past five years have been bigger and faster, they agree -- especially as craft beer has moved into the American mainstream.
“It's ubiquitous in the best way possible,” Gallagher said. “When we started, people wondered why we didn’t sell Budweiser. Now we’re more likely to hear someone moan about something they don’t think is rare enough.”
"We really were the only game in town forever, it seemed,” Blanchard said. “But for quite a while, we’ve been saying, well, everybody has a good beer list now.
"The biggest change has been our ability to get rare and limited beer. Now it’s divided up among 40 places sometimes. You can pretty much pick a night of the week and go somewhere and find something that’s very exciting.”
But even with all the competition and the ongoing challenges of running a small business, Moore, Blanchard and Gallagher said they’re still having fun.
“As a business person, you hope what you do has an impact,” Gallagher said. “You don’t necessarily want someone in your own town copycatting you. But you hope you can pass something on to the community. I think the proudest moment will be when some of the people we’ve employed go off and do it for themselves.”
Brick Store Pub 15th anniversary, June 24-30. 125 E. Court Square, Decatur. 404-687-0990, brickstorepub.com.
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Credit: Clayton County Police Department