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Pork and Craft Beer Festival Brews in Bridgehampton

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A plate of pork dish available at the Topping Rose House Restaurant. Courtesy of Topping Rose House.

A plate of pork dish available at the Topping Rose House Restaurant. Courtesy of Topping Rose House.

By Tessa Raebeck

Why pork?

“Well, ’cause it goes great with beer,” said Ty Kotz, executive chef at the Topping Rose House, which will host its first Pork and Craft Beer Festival Saturday afternoon.

With the rapid growth of craft breweries on Long Island, East End chefs now have the opportunity to expand local menus beyond homegrown produce and meat to also include the homebrewed.

After spending an afternoon enjoying beers at a few of the local breweries, Chef de Cuisine Kyle Koenig and his wife, Jessica, the restaurant’s beverage director, came up with the idea for the festival, which will feature myriad  innovative pork dishes and craft beers from eight breweries.

Topping Rose House Restaurant Executive Chef Ty Kotz. Photo courtesy Topping Rose House.

Topping Rose House Restaurant Executive Chef Ty Kotz. Photo courtesy Topping Rose House.

“We decided, let’s partner with Niman Ranch, where we get a majority of our pork from, and let’s try to get very local brewers together and do a few of our favorite things—to barbecue and have some really great beer,” Mr. Koenig said Monday.

Niman Ranch and New York City-based DeBragga, which supply meat to Topping Rose, quickly signed on as sponsors, as did The Independent, Southampton Publick House, Great South Bay Brewery, Greenport Harbor Brewing Company, Moustache Brewing Company, Long Ireland, Crooked Ladder, Port Jeff Brewing Company and Montauk Brewing Company. A representative of the Montauk Shellfish Company will also be on hand shucking fresh Montauk pearl oysters.

“It’s kind of like any chef’s hobby to do tons of stuff with pork,” Mr. Kotz said. “And we kind of just started going nuts, so we’re going to have this huge spread.”

The chefs are preparing five different types of sausages grilled on a live station, tables of charcuterie, house made terrine, various vegetable sides, house made sauerkraut, sliders, chicharrones, and bacon, to name a few dishes—and the menu is still being expanded.

“We’re still throwing stuff on the bandwagon, our flyer is just a smidgeon of what’s actually going to be produced,” Mr. Kotz said.

Two machines will spin hand-carved pork shawarma, layered meat similar to Greek gyros and Turkish kebabs that spin on a stick vertically. A pork belly will be marinated Indian-style, then sliced to order, put in a pita and served with fresh vegetables. The other spit-grilled meat will be a Mexican-style pork shoulder al pastor.

Guests can also enjoy several porchettas, dishes in which the chefs take the whole loin of the pig, wrap the belly around the loin and cook it as a single piece, resulting in a savory, fatty and moist roast.

“It’s boneless, but because it’s essentially the loin wrapped in bacon cooking, it’s very tender and juicy and you get this incredible, incredible flavor,” Mr. Kotz said.

One table will feature charcuterie slicing with prosciutto Americana from La Quercia, an Iowa company that uses all heritage breeds of pigs to make rare American-made prosciutto.

“It’s just extraordinary,” Mr. Kotz said, “because they don’t salt it as much, so you can actually taste more of the pork.”

Pastry Chef Cassandra Shupp is “doing all kinds of stuff” for the festival,  Mr. Kotz said, including making “everything” potato rolls and pretzels that are the chef’s take on everything bagels.

“Everything sticks to what we do here,” Mr. Kotz said, “and that’s local and farms.”

All the meat at the festival is naturally raised and antibiotic free with no hormones.

“So, not only is it just a bunch of pig, it’s pig you want to put into your body,” he continued. “It’s what we believe in and what [Topping Rose Chef Tom Colicchio] believes in. It’s really pushing for better food in our food system in America.” Knowing the benefits of better nutrition,  the restaurant tries to “really practice what we’re preaching” he added.

A pig roasting at the Topping Rose House. Photo courtesy Topping Rose House.

A pig roasting at the Topping Rose House. Photo courtesy Topping Rose House.

Expanding that practice from the plate to the pint glass was an obvious and easy choice, as the local breweries were eager to join in on the festival.

“They were all like, ‘absolutely,’” Mr. Kotz said, “We didn’t have to twist their arm to be a part of this. This is an excuse to get a lot of people together with a lot of great food.”

Incorporated in 2010 and opened just two years ago, the Montauk Brewing Company has grown rapidly, with its beer now available on draft in about 200 locations from Montauk to the Queens border of Long Island.

Montauk Brewing is bring its flagship beer, Driftwood Ale, and the newly released Guardsman Stout to Saturday’s festival.

“The style is an extra special bitter, and relies on its balance between malt and hops for its drinkability,” Montauk’s Vaughan Cutillo, co-founder and brewer at MBC, said of the Driftwood Ale.

“Driftwood Ale turned out to be a beer that paired well with our local foodshed—from beef to fish to local greens and, most importantly, pork—the beer just worked and we couldn’t be happier,” he added.

Released this winter, the Guardsman Stout is a smooth, bold beer that’s dark in color with a “roasty” finish.

“Our beer recipes to date have accompanied a variety of dishes from our local community, and we would like to continue this tradition,” Mr. Cutillo added. “Doing too much with a beer can sometimes destroy the intentions of the chef. Instead, our beer truly pairs with the meal. The beer and the meal are enjoyed and their nuances complement one another.”

The Pork and Craft Beer Festival is Saturday, May 3, at the Topping Rose House, 1 Bridgehampton-Sag Harbor Turnpike in Bridgehampton. VIP admission is $125 and grants access to an exclusive hour with the brewers and chefs at 12 p.m. For $100, general admission grants access to the festival, which runs from 1 to 4 p.m. For more information or to reserve a space, email mpoore@craftrestaurant.com.

From Farm to Bottle, “Hops and Brews” to Explore Long Island Alcohol

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Hops growing at Condzella Farms. Photo courtesy of John Condzella.

Hops growing at Condzella Farms. Photo courtesy of John Condzella.

By Tessa Raebeck

Long Islanders have been enjoying homegrown potatoes for generations, but rarely has the local harvest been in their vodka.

At “Hops and Brews” this Sunday, a farmer, a brewer and a spirit maker will discuss the various manifestations of the rapidly growing alcohol industry on Long Island. Panelists John Condzella of Condzella Farms in Wading River, Duffy Griffiths of Crooked Ladder Brewing Company in Riverhead and Rich Stabile of Long Island Spirits in Baiting Hollow will reflect on the collaboration between local producers and the strength of Long Island’s wide variety of goods.

Duffy Griffiths, head brewer at the Crooked Ladder Brewing Company. Photo courtesy of Crooked Ladder.

Duffy Griffiths, head brewer at the Crooked Ladder Brewing Company. Photo courtesy of Crooked Ladder.

The second installment of the “Conversations With…” lecture series presented by the Peconic Land Trust, “Long Island Grown: Food and Beverage Artisans at Work” will be moderated by Laura Donnelly, a resident of East Hampton, pastry chef, author and the food editor for The East Hampton Star.

“Some Long Island farmers are making really unique or non-traditional products as they strive to meet a growing demand for locally grown and produced items,” said Kathy Kennedy of the Peconic Land Trust, “We’re excited to be able to showcase some of them.”

“I am very excited to have a chance to moderate this panel,” said Ms. Donnelly. “I am a huge fan of craft brewers and love trying local beers and ales.”

With the recent—and fast—growth of craft beer on Long Island, small hops farming has become economically feasible, creating a symbiotic relationship between farmers and brewers. The hops farmer needs the craft breweries to survive and the craft breweries need the supply from their local farms.

Brewers working with wet hops must do so within 24 hours of the harvest, so finding a local source is crucial to a successful wet hop brew. John Condzella, a fourth generation farmer at Condzella Farms, recognized this demand, adding Condzella Hops to his family farm six years ago.

Rich Stabile of Long Island Spirits. Photo courtesy of Rich Stabile.

Rich Stabile of Long Island Spirits. Photo courtesy of Rich Stabile.

“I wanted to grow a unique crop, something that no other farm was doing,” explained Mr. Condzella. “During college I developed a love for craft beer; I know that was an important catalyst for my hops growing endeavors.”

Initially, Mr. Condzella was picking his hops by hand, enlisting the help of family, friends and local volunteers, until a Kickstarter campaign last spring enabled him to purchase a Wolf WHE 170 Hopfen Pflückmaschine, a German machine that picks them for him. In 2013 alone, Mr. Condzella harvested 800 pounds of hops.

“I think demand on Long Island is growing, the industry is very young. Most local brewers aren’t accustomed to using local whole cone hops. Mainstream hops pellets from around the world are their hops of choice,” Mr. Condzella said.

Hops grower John Condzella of Condzella Farms. Photo courtesy of John Condzella.

Hops grower John Condzella of Condzella Farms. Photo courtesy of John Condzella.

The demand is indeed growing: Some of that farm-to-growler beer will be available next year at the Crooked Ladder Brewing Company, which opened in July 2013.

Head Brewer Duffy Griffiths said the brewery will start using local hops in September, “when the fresh hops round comes out.” Condzella’s Hops is an option, although Crooked Ladder hasn’t yet chosen its supplier.

“It’s a matter of just using whole hops and supporting your local industry, rather than buying them from the Pacific Northwest or having them imported, so we try to keep everything local,” Mr. Griffiths said. “It helps out the area.”

Keeping everything local is at the core of Long Island Spirits. Founded in 2007, it is Long Island’s first craft distillery since the 1800s. The flagship product, LiV Vodka is made from Long Island potatoes, many of which are grown on the 5,000 acres of farmland surrounding the North Fork distillery.

Supplied by a variety of local farmers, the marcy russet potatoes arrive at Long Island Spirits in one-ton sacks. Three days a week, the distillery goes through roughly eight tons of potatoes. Every 25 pounds of potatoes makes about one liter of LiV Vodka.

The distillery also makes Rough Riders and Pine Barrens whisky and a collection of Sorbettas, liqueurs infused with fresh fruit.

“We’ll use local raspberries or local strawberries,” explained spirits maker Rich Stabile. “We’re using real fruit infused with the vodka that we grow on Long Island, made from Long Island potatoes.”

“We all know Long Island potatoes are the best,” said Ms. Donnelly. “Rich believes it is the sweet, buttery flavor of the potato that makes his LiV vodka so good. I have tried this vodka and it is excellent.”

“Long Island farmland is some of the best agricultural land in the world,” said Mr. Condzella, whose family farm started with dairy in the 1800s and evolved to a potato operation in the 1920s. “Our maritime climate, fertile soils and abundant sunshine are great for growing most crops, and hops are no exception.”

“Hops and Brews” is Sunday, April 6, from 2 to 4 p.m. at Bridge Gardens, 26 Mitchell Lane in Bridgehampton. To reserve a seat, call Robin Harris at 283-3195, ext. 19, or email events@peconiclandtrust.org.