The first time I noticed 550 Brewing was when a group of friends and I visited Rubio’s in Aztec this summer. We were relaxing on the outdoor patio enjoying a bowl of chips and queso when we noticed the brewery next door. There were lights, live music, and a group of people out enjoying beers in the brewery’s outdoor seating area. We couldn’t help but note how much fun everyone was having, so I made a note to visit the venue next time I stopped in Aztec.
As they do, days turned to weeks, and weeks turned to months before I decided it was time to make a trek to our neighbors down south. I hadn’t eaten all day and was mulling over where to stop for lunch when, at the back of my mind, that memory resurfaced. It was time to make good on that promise to myself from all those months ago. I turned down a couple side streets until I reached my destination.
I admittedly got there a little early — before they opened, in fact — but on that particular day, it didn’t matter. There was already a small crowd gathered at the bar, reminiscing about events from the night before, and they welcomed me in.
I took a seat in the corner of the bar and observed my surroundings. 550 Brewing is a family owned and operated. They opened their taproom in December 2016, and it’s the very definition of the word eclectic. The interior is a hodgepodge of quirky vintage decor that gives the place plenty of personality. On top of that, the Halloween decor was still out, and in one of the back seating areas there were games and Star Wars character cutouts placed in the corners. At the bar was a statue of Big Foot next to a framed newspaper headline announcing the end of the Prohibition Era. “America says cheers to 21st Amendment,” the paper read. Casual. Friendly. Quirky. This was my kind of place.
I stepped up to the bar to order a drink. It’s quite obvious the brewers at 550 have a soft spot in their hearts for IPAs, ales, and lagers. I asked the bartender for any recommendations she had, and she suggested mixing their apple cider with their Honey I’m Home blonde ale. I’m the type of person who will drink anything cider this time of year so I happily obliged, but not without also trying their Irish Red Ale and blonde ale without the cider.
For those of you looking for something really sweet to sip on, mixing the cider and blonde ale is an absolute must. If you’re the type of person who is repelled by anything even remotely sugary in your beer, best keep away from this one.
The Chuska Street brewery is truly a neighborhood watering hole. One woman I ran into at the bar explained that she lived just down the street and that she was a regular. As a native Chicagoan, a city infamous for its style of pizza, she highly recommended ordering some pizza.
“They have the best pizza here,” she said without batting an eye to her betrayal of her roots.
I was sold. I needed some bread carbs to go with my beer carbs anyway. I asked for a menu to view my cheesy options, of which there are many. At 550 Brewing, you can get just about any pie your heart desires without breaking the bank — their specialty pies only come out to a whopping $8.95 — but you can also build your own pizza or order pasta or salad. I was set on pizza, however, and was intrigued that I could order anything from a green chile bacon cheeseburger pizza to a New Mexico fresco pie. It took me a long time to decide before I announced that I would be going with the jalapeño popper pizza.
The only drawback to ordering food at 550 Brewing is that you have to call and order it from the pizza parlor down the street, also run by 550 Brewing. But, if you think about it, how much different is it from giving a waitress your order and then waiting 20-30 minutes for your fresh pizza to arrive? Not much. And anyway, it was completely worth it. Turns out, 550 Brewing does indeed have the best pizza. Talk about cheese overload. The jalapeño popper pizza mozzarella, roasted jalapeños, ricotta, and bacon — all of my favorite things. I downed the whole pizza in about 30 seconds flat without shame. I’m already craving another.
There’s a lot to love about 550 Brewing. It’s yet another Aztec hidden gem that joins the ranks for some of our favorites, like Beer Belly’s. Durango best watch out when it comes to food because Aztec sure knows how to make their carb hungry customers happy.
550 Brewing is located at 119 Chuska St., Aztec, NM. For more information visit 550brew.com or call 505-793-2551.Amanda Push