"I think the best beers start from a place of authenticity. We brew the kinds of beer we like to drink, and that we like to share with our friends and family. That's what puts the best liquid in a glass."
It’s only normal that a business will evolve and adapt as it grows. Some simplify and streamline, some expand, but downtown Tucson brewery Ten55 Brewing decided to grow, expand, move, rebrand, and add on a restaurant pretty much all at the same time.
While the craze of all that shifting would cripple many, Ten55 has risen above. Finally settled into their two-story space on Congress Street in downtown Tucson, the brewery is celebrating seven years in business. And there’s much to celebrate. They’re currently offering 17 beers on tap – one of the highest tap counts for a brewery in Southern Arizona – with even more that rotate in and out. And the restaurant side of things, which was something new to brewery managing partner and newly minted restaurateur Chris Squires, is operating smoothly with a solid menu of delicious offerings.
“We’re brewers by trade, but we’ve really fallen in love with the restaurant business,” said Squires. “All the stereotypes are true, it’s a wild roller coaster, but it’s a blast. There’s a ton of overlap between beer geeks and foodies, but it’s two sides of the same coin.”
Opened in February 2013, Ten55 started out brewing just a small handful of beers, some of which are still brewed today, like Two Sons DIPA, their first offering. They’re also still making Leap Pale Ale, an American Pale Ale, XOXO Coffee Stout, a full-bodied coffee stout that uses local roaster EXO Roast coffee, and Sugar Skull Chocolate Milk Stout, a light-bodied Stout brewed with cacao and vanilla.
But that’s just the tip of the iceberg as there’s over 12 beers currently being brewed, such as Two Sons Citra DIPA, Olivia Del Bac, which is a limited-release American Wild Ale slated for an April bottle release, and a slew of seasonal favorites, like the Arizona Red Lime Wit that makes an appearance during the summer, and the Winter Warmer that shows up during the holidays.
Squires, along with brewer Patrick Heacock and Steve Fogg are constantly experimenting with new styles and techniques, as well.
“I think the best beers we make start from a place of authenticity,” said Squires. “We brew the kinds of beer we like to drink, and that we like to share with our friends and family. That’s what puts the best liquid in a glass.”
Although Ten55 began solely as a brewery, still produces a gaggle of beer, and is primarily thought of as a brewery, the new location is – upon first glance – more restaurant than brewery. They feature a fresh take on brewpub food, using quality ingredients, like local Forbes Meat Company sausages (which feature prominently on the lunch menu) and Barrio Bread. The menu is an interesting, delightful blend of German, American, and regional influences that seamlessly bounces from chicharrones to soft Bavarian pretzels, and from fried cauliflower to slow braised brisket.
And it’s the little things that make Ten55’s menu a standout. It’s all too easy for a restaurant these days to purchase frozen fries and dill pickles, but Ten55 does it all in house. It shows, too. Recently, they added the Kickin’ Chicken Sando which combines spicy buttermilk fried chicken, pickles and mayonnaise on a sesame bun. It’s darn tasty. In fact, the food’s so good here, that it’s reason enough to head on in, whether you’re a beer drinker or not. Salad lovers and vegetarians will find a Thai Squash Salad (roasted seasonal squash, toasted cashews, jalapeño, cilantro, shallot, coconut ginger dressing) and a 520 Bowl that highlights seasonal Arizona produce and local produce vendor Pivot Produce.
“We’re a scratch kitchen, so the raw materials we start with have a huge influence on the quality of the final dish,” Squires emphasized. “Whenever possible, Chef Zack procures ingredients from the best possible sources, we buy from people like Don at Barrio Bread, Ben from Forbes Meat Company, or Vito over at Viro’s Bakery. We like doing business with people who are as serious as we are about quality, and we think it shows in the final product.”
January marked a new direction for the food, with the launch of new lunch and dinner menus. The new direction? Beer. Many new items feature beer and the dinner menu is no longer so sausage dominant.
One welcome bit of news for Ten55 fans is that you can expect to start seeing Ten55 beer in places other than the downtown location. For just over the last year, while the new spot was under construction and in its first few months, production capacity at the rapidly expanding brewery was tight. Now that brewers Heacock and Fogg are comfortable with the new groove, you should start to see Ten55 brews on tap at many of your local favorite bars and restaurants.
In 2019, we expanded our production capacity.” Squires continued. “We’re excited to be able to distribute our beer once again, after being out of the marketplace for nearly two years. The bars and restaurants who have sold our beer in the past were a big part of spreading the word about Ten55, so it feels great to be back in the distribution business.
Ten55 Brewing is located at 110 E. Congress Street in the heart of downtown Tucson. Open daily from 11 a.m – 9 p.m. on most days with an extended closing time of 11 p.m. on Thursday – Saturday. For more information, check out 1055brewing.com.
This feature was created in partnership with downtown Tucson brewery Ten55 Brewing. Learn more about Tucson Foodie brand opportunities.