I had assumed that Enix Brewing Company, a new brewery in Homestead, would focus mostly on quality beer, and let the food menu fall by the wayside. I was wrong.
The menu at Enix is inspired by Spanish flavors, and it shines through with pillowy empanadas and crunchy croquetas. The space also has malty, site-made brews and even a bowling alley upstairs. But the Iberian-style cuisine should attract those looking for something new in Pittsburgh's restaurant scene.
Enix Brewery is owned by brothers Victor and David Rodriguez. David, along with his wife, was an integral part of Madrid’s craft beer scene. In 2013, they opened one of Madrid’s first brewpubs, Fábrica Maravillas. Homestead caught his eye and the master brewer decided to partner with Victor, purchasing the old Levine Brothers Hardware building on Eighth Ave. The brothers officially opened Enix Brewing Company in August.
The brewery embraces an industrial feel, situating tables and decor around big, steel pipes that zig-zag across the ceiling. It’s a sleek space, grayscale with a few pops of bright red. Toward the back, gigantic brewing equipment is on display through a glass screen.
I took a Sunday afternoon trip to Enix. It was almost silent, save for one company holiday party across the room. Brunch was busy, but I arrived during turnover.
At the bar, I analyzed the long draft list. Enix houses a tap system with 12-rotating brews, featuring everything from an imperial stout to a kolsch. To start, I tasted an Enix signature beer and Madrid favorite, MadRed IPA. The beer, pale red and malty, combined a hoppy, American-style IPA with a bitter stout.
From there, I moved onto the food menu. It featured brewpub classics such as flatbreads and chips, along with unexpected options like Spanish tortilla, croquetas, and empanadas. I picked the Roquefort croquetas and black bean and manchego empanadas.
The empanadas and croquetas were unbelievable. I easily broke the empanada in half with a satisfying crunch. The inside had the texture of a warm, whipped pancake. Black beans and Manchego countered the almost-overwhelming sweet dough with a touch of acidity. It was served with a mild, smoky sauce. But the croquetas stole the show. The bread-crumb crust crunched like cornflakes, opening to a molten, creamy inside. The Roquefort cheese was wrapped inside a lava-like center. It was rich, the bleu cheese adding a gentle tang.
It was the relationship between the beer and food that truly impressed me. The MadRed’s bitterness cut through the rich, fried food. I wasn’t overwhelmed by oil or fat because I could tease my palate with malt.
During my bar-stool residency I tried a few other beers, consistently impressed with unique flavors. In a sea of American-style breweries, Enix brings Spain on the scene. It’s time to trade in the IC Lite for something a little more malty.
No free samples
The bartenders at Enix will not give small tasters for free. The brewer wants patrons to actually taste the beer, not just base a decision on one frothy sip.
I am a terrible bowler, so I avoided the alley. But it’s a fun addition to the brewery, adding another unique element. And, they manage to make it soundproof. No crashing pins will interrupt a first date downstairs.
I love quirky holiday decorations and Enix hit the mark with a hand-painted, beer drinking Santa displayed front-and-center on the window.