We love DTLB’s culinary scene specifically because it is so unique. And it is so unique because the vast variety of eateries are either locally owned or unique to Long Beach, giving visitors and patrons alike distinct offerings that run the full gastronomical gamut.
This is precisely why we’ve created this series, Off the Menu DTLB. This series seeks to explore grub and drinks that are either not on the menu whatsoever at a DTLB joint or, perhaps, aren’t so blatantly advertised or just seem offbeat entirely.
For a full list of previous Off the Menu items, scroll to the bottom.
There’s something about Recreational Coffee’s iced coffee—and it’s something they blatantly advertise: “This is not a cold brew.” And now, they can add an asterisk to “cold brew” because with their hoppy iced coffee, it’s also not the kind of cold brew you’d get at Beachwood.
Unlike everyone else (even including Starbucks), Recreational eschews the cold brew method—using room temperature water to long steep ground coffee beans—in favor of the Japanese iced pour method where hot coffee is brewed over ice. With their hoppy iced coffee, they dry hop the iced coffee during the flash chill with Cascade hops (the same hops that define West Coast-style IPAs because of their citrus-floral character and can be found in Anchor’s Liberty IPA and Lagunita’s IPA).
”On its own, our Ethiopia [the current bean used for our iced coffee] tastes like peach black tea, and with the hops it adds a grapefruit, hoppy accent to the drink,” said Recreational owner and coffee master Bobby Hernandez. “The final product is an iced coffee that smells like an IPA, tastes like iced coffee, and finishes like an IPA with that tropical, bitter, hoppy note. So basically it’s a coffee shop’s response to beer brewers who use coffee to accentuate malts and yeasts. We’re turning the tables and now using hops to accentuate the natural flavor of the coffee.”
The merging of the two makes sense: within the past decade, both beer and coffee have come up to the food world as genuine culinary offerings—not just something you swig when its hot out or something you drink to wake up. And like all things culinary, the harmonious merging of two things don’t always work, including adding hops to coffee.
”Every coffee is different and not any coffee can work with any hop,” Hernandez said. “This was a process of much trial and error: trying to find a coffee that tastes one way and can be enhanced by adding another bittersweet hop. We trailed with several different hops with different alpha levels [measure of bitterness in hops], different steep times, steep methods, different coffees, etc… That being said, we carefully choose what coffees work with a particular hop. Coming through the pipeline is a Guatemala bean that inherently tastes vanilla like with a more fuller body and we’ve paired it with a new type of hop called Huell Melon, a German hop that beer brewers just got a hold of recently. The final product for that one turns a Guatemala into a slightly more melon-y sweet coffee, akin to an Ethiopia with a very subtle hoppy characteristic.”
The nerdy quality of Hernandez’s experiments are essentially what makes Recreational one of the most respectable coffeehouses in Long Beach—and that means challenging what coffee can be.
”Bottom line is this isn’t a one off thing,” Hernandez said. “We love pushing the limits of coffee and what can be done to it, all in the name of tasting really good. We won’t make items that taste interesting to just try once. We make drinks that people can’t get enough of and we’re happy that this drink sells out pretty much everyday since it’s release and that people are even requesting growlers full of it. We’re super excited and proud of this little creation.”
Off the Menu in DTLB
- Fruitilandia in DTLB
- Pier 76’s Chowder Fries
- Potholder’s Flintstone French Toast
- Recreational Coffee’s Iced Basilfruit