This past Saturday, the Topping Rose House held its first annual Pork & Craft Beer Festival, which is exactly what it sounds like. The small luxury hotel in Bridgehampton is also home to a farm-to-table restaurant owned by celebrity chef Tom Colicchio and run by executive chef Ty Kotz.
Kotz and crew, including chef de cuisine Kyle Koenig, who along with his wife Jessica created the event, put out an impressive spread where pork was undoubtedly the star. In lieu of flowers, each table’s centerpiece was a vase of homemade chicharrones and melt in your mouth bacon. Muffaletta sliders, four varieties of cut sausages including rich spicy andouille with creamy red beans, and crispy pork belly with chimichurri never ran low and remained artfully arranged all afternoon. However, the real standout was the pork belly schwarma. Tender roasted porchetta had a perfectly crunchy skin and was served with homemade potato rolls and pickles, which complemented the rich pork and added a sweet, tangy element.
The craft beer menu included Long Ireland Beer Company, Greenport Harbor Brewing Company, Crooked Ladder Brewery, Montauk Brewing Company, Southampton Publick House and newly opened Moustache Brewing Co., operated by husband and wife Matt and Lauri Spitz; for now their beer is only available in the tasting room. Westerners Port Jeff Brewing Company and Great South Bay Brewery also took the trip, with the latter pouring their slightly reformulated Blonde Ambition, a light, summer beer with hints of peach.
Port Jeff’s serving table was conveniently located across from the selection of charcuterie, much of it homemade, offered by the Topping Rose House chefs. Serrano ham and prosciutto were sliced paper thin and accompanied by grilled bread, mustard and pickled onions and spicy kimchi. Rich and decadent pate, rillette and head cheese paired nicely with the new Red Double IPA from Port Jeff Brewing, a beer full of malty, sweet notes with a backbone of hop bitterness.
Mike Martinsen and Mike Doall from the Montauk Shellfish Company, who affectionately referred to themselves as the “Ben & Jerry’s of oysters”, were hard at work shucking all afternoon. Their fresh briny Montauk Pearls are one of a kind; the unique flavor comes from their environment and surface growing technique. Mignonette, cocktail sauce and lemon wedges were offered, though the oysters were flavorful enough to stand on their own. Greenport Harbor’s Cuvasion, a Belgian ale brewed using grapes from Martha Clara, offered a dry, wine like profile that accented the cool clean flavor of the oysters.
For a sweet finish, patrons snacked on freshly baked cookies crammed with chocolate chips, banana cream pie in a chocolate graham cracker shell, caramel corn and sweet and savory maple bacon candies. And to wash it all down was the small batch Miss Lady Root Beer, which was originally made by Rowdy Hall manager and home brewer Theo Foscolo.
Attendees were able to meet the chefs and brewers who were happy to chat about their craft. The rustic setting of the barn at the Topping Rose House provided the ideal backdrop to showcase the delicious marriage between local beer and pork. Perhaps the typical pretzel necklace at beer festivals will soon be replaced by a bacon bracelet.
Alicia Valeo and Kevin Breslawski write about beer at Beer Loves Company.