A few weeks back I shared my experience visiting Three Rivers Brewery in Farmington, and as it turns out they are not alone in northwest New Mexico. I took another weekend trip to Durango at the beginning of April and found myself visiting yet another brewery before crossing into Colorado.
The new 550 Brewing Taproom opened at the beginning of 2017 in the historic district of Aztec, right off of its namesake, U.S. Highway 550. The father and son ownership team of Mike and Sean Paschall had been operating 550 Brewing out of a different location for about five years. They brewed exclusively for pleasure and serving at local events, but this Saturday their business will officially be in the next stage of its evolution when the taproom celebrates its grand opening.
The Paschall family has deep family roots in Aztec, and a direct involvement in several local businesses. The local community has already shown support for the taproom and will, without a doubt, be at the grand opening in full force.
The first thing I noticed when approaching the taproom was the great outdoor space. A nice tent with shaded seating was setup between the parking lot and the front door, along with plenty of other outdoor tables and seats in the larger part of the yard. The inside was quaint, yet adequate, and more importantly both clean and comfortable. I sat at the bar, which had eight tap handles, with six house beers and two guest taps from Marble.
The tap handles, old oilfield designs, followed the retro style of the bar, along with the antique cash register being used. However, the focal point behind the bar was (appropriately) the beer list.
“These are our staples … got a pretty good segment covered … you know what I mean,” said bartender and junior brewer Terry Martin. “We’ve only been open for about three months and we’ve had great business, but we’re trying to scale our brewing to that. Because, previous to that we’ve only done special events and now we have a permanent location.
“So, after we get a few back-order kegs of these, we’ll start experimenting, getting weird. Probably going to do a darker porter or double bock or something like that, and then probably hop something up, too.”
I was content with all six of the house beers (and actually a seventh on the way back from Durango after the Dry Irish Stout was replaced with Ginormous Stout), but I would say my favorite was definitely the apple cider. It satisfied my definition of a good hard cider — clean, refreshing, with a slight fruit taste, but not super sweet so that I have a stomachache after one. After the cider, I would say that I enjoyed both stouts and am excited to return and check on them as well as the upcoming “weird” stuff.
As always, we hope that 550 Brewing will be supported not only by their local community, but we also encourage the beer lovers across New Mexico to stop by at some point in 2017. There is no better time to show that support than at the grand opening this Saturday, but there is no bad time, either. Stop by next time you pass through town (and there are plenty of good reasons to pass through town). It’s also worth pointing out that 550 Brewing has a great website if you need it.
The Brew Crew wishes 550 Brewing the best of luck at their grand opening and going forward!