Even though there is certainly a bit of a chill in the air in half the country this morning, the popularity of cold brewed coffee can’t be ignored, so let’s take a look at Hop Toddy from Domain (made by Oddly Correct, right here in Kansas City), a coffee I first looked at waaaaay back in 2012! Drink! The headline gets a little buried in this review, so skip about halfway down to see how much I loved this new Hop Toddy!
Purchase this locally (online “coming soon”)
ODDLY CORRECT DOMAIN COLD BREW HOP TODDY
This is a fun review for me because this one takes me way back! Long before there was KC Coffee Geek, I had a beverage blog (mostly beer), called The Liquid Diet, that was pretty sporadic. Looking back at the site, my last 3-4 posts were about coffee, a coffee brewing/timer app and a coffee beer, so you can see what led me to create KC Coffee Geek in 2015! Just a side note, I didn’t even realize how much I posted on that site and for how long… I started it up in Dec 2008 and pulled the plug in August 2014, with the last 2 years being pretty spotty in posting frequency. Man, I’m kind of proud of that old site, all of a sudden! LOL
The coffee in question is the focus of this morning’s article, Hop Toddy, whose development goes at least as far back as the summer of 2012 with V1.0. I can’t be certain, but I’d be willing to put serious money down that this was my first bottled cold brew coffee, and I think Oddly Correct was definitely on the front end of this trend, for sure. A bit of background… Oddly Correct is one of my favorite Kansas City coffee roasters and cafes (and that’s saying a lot because the KC coffee culture is insane these days!) and I drank my first coffee from them way back when I met co-owner Gregory Kolsto at a summertime vendor fair in Westport the year before the shop even opened. So, in a way, I’ve been with the OC gang since the beginning, as an interested bystander. Oddly Correct started selling Hop Toddy V1.0 back in the summer of 2012 and it took off right away.
They were using a Toddy system to batch cold brew the coffee for it, and they thought that cold brew made this way was sweet and full-bodied, but also a bit flat and boring. To add some complexity and bring up the high end a bit, they started adding hops, even using Citra, which is what is in the current iteration of this drink today. This was an experimental product back then, made in the shop in small batches. No label, just a brown beer bottle and a blank cap! In later years, Oddly Correct started putting it in an OC-trademark letterpressed brown paper bag as a play on drinking what looks like a beer nice and early in the morning (or whenever).
Earlier this year, Oddly Correct superfan, Daniel Lance, convinced Oddly Correct to get more serious about the cold brew market, which has been insanely growing for the past couple years. Daniel, Gregory and Oddly Correct’s second co-owner and roaster, Michael Schroeder, put their heads together and birthed the idea for Domain Cold Brew, a spinoff brand with all three gentlemen as partners, featuring great coffee in a more shelf-friendly package than the brown bag. Domain’s products are made in a FDA-inspected facility in Kansas City, Kansas, designed by Michael to be scaled up to a 200-gallon brew tank. A big step up from the Toddy system, that’s for sure! For those of us who are accustomed to Oddly Correct’s woodcut and letterpressed aesthetic (all created and printed by Gregory), the bright colors and cleaner, more “corporate” branding on the Domain products is a huge change, but this is a product that I could see on the shelf at a high-end grocery store whereas the charm and beauty of the “dirtbag marketing” of the original brown paper bag would be more than a stretch! LOL
They’re currently using a Colombian coffee from Huila to make three versions of Domain’s initial offering… Origin (which is the coffee by itself), Hop Toddy (hopped with Cascade whole hop cones) and Orange Blossom (brewed with orange blossoms). I’ll be reviewing the other two versions in the next week or two, but I just had to start with Hop Toddy because of my history with this product!
The thing that stood out the most to me with the 2012 V1.0 of Hop Toddy was just how not hop forward this cold brew was. In fact, in my original article I recalled overhearing the girl in line in front of me saying she didn’t like hoppy beers, and so wasn’t sure about trying Hop Toddy, and the person behind the counter said she’d be fine. That V1.0 ended up being a nice, balanced chocolatey cold brew with hints of Earl Grey and lemon, but no discernable hop flavors. I wondered, way back then, if the original had some washed Yirgacheffe coffee in the brew and it turns out that it did, so my palate worked pretty well even back then!
So, what was my expectation for the modern Domain Hop Toddy? The same… a nice, easy drinking cold brew with little to no hops flavors, using hops as a “brightening agent” rather than the star of the show. The coffee itself is roasted by Oddly Correct and it’s from La Mesa de Elias in Huila, Colombia. The hops have switched from Citra in the V1.0 to Cascade in today’s version. Opening the bottle, you’ll find a bit of very fine, almost powedered, coffee grounds around the rim. I just wipe that off and drink/pour, but you could probably jujst give it a good shake and re-incorporate it, too. Just don’t worry if you find that… it’s nothing growing in there, or anything weird!
Pouring the cold brew into a glass, it’s a cloudy dark brown as you’d expect, and there’s a pretty good layer of oils on the surface, too. This is probably both from the hops as well as oils that come out in the cold brew process. It’s frankly pretty ugly to look at, but that’s something that goes hand in hand with cold brew and so it is what it is! I am noticing something different about the Domain version of Hop Toddy that was lacking in the V1.0 and that’s those hops! Stone cold, right out of the fridge, I get plenty of citrusy hop aroma off the top of the glass with a nice chocolatey aroma in the background, too. If I was smelling this blind (since there’s no carbonation and no head on this beverage), I would definitely say this is a hoppy stout of some sort.
Taking my first sip, yep, this is not V1.0 of Hop Toddy. Wow! Very first sip hits me like chocolate milk with a ton of hops in it. Like, beer level hops. Whereas in V1.0 the hops were a “condiment,” in the Domain version the hops are the main course. The Domain version definitely puts the hops in Hop Toddy! I’ll admit, I’m not the biggest cold brew drinker and I rarely drink it, but I’m really loving this and could see it being super refreshing in the heat of summer. I did take one of my bottles to work at 7:00AM last week and it was a little weird because I was drinking it out of the bottle and also the hops stuck with me for a few hours and I felt like I’d had a beer even though it was only coffee! LOL I’m thinking Hop Toddy would be a great post-lunch afternoon pick-me-up whereas the other versions are probably more “appropriate” for morning.
This has a big body and a heavy mouthfeel, which is expected and one of the appealing aspects of cold brew. There is a lot of chocolate happening in the coffee itself and really no roasty notes at all, which is not surprising given Oddly Correct’s relatively light roasting style. Everything else is straight hops. When used in beer, hops provide two things: aroma/flavor and bittering, depending on how and when they are added. I imagine a lot of care went into producing Hop Toddy because it’s not off-the-chain bitter. Given that coffee is already inherently a bitter beverage, and hops are really bitter, this could easily be a bitter bomb, and it is far from that. There is a ton of sweetness (there is no sugar added to this beverage) from the coffee and there is a bit of bitterness from the hops, but given how much flavor and aroma the hops provide, the bitterness is really pretty minimal. I would love to see if IBU’s could be calculated for this like they are in beer, but if I had to purely guess, the bitterness reads like a 25-30 IBU beer to me (pretty low) and the flavor/aroma hits me like a 50-60 IBU IPA or APA. Outstanding! This really is as close to a non-alcoholic IPA as I think you can get. Cascade hops are super popular in craft brewing and are known for medium bitterness with flavors of floral, spicy and citrusy, leaning into the grapefruit category. That is certainly true in this Hop Toddy. The hops give a bit of a grapefruit pith note and have a bit of a peppery bite. They are so delicious. I love hoppy beers and a hoppy coffee is the next best thing.
I enjoyed Oddly’s V1.0 Hop Toddy, but admittedly I never tried it again after 2012 because it was just a cold bottle of coffee to me. I really love this Domain version because they’ve gone all-in on the hops and, to me, that really elevates Hop Toddy from “just a cold coffee” to a totally unique coffee-based beverage that has something in it I can’t really get from anything else. It really does read like a hoppy stout and the thick, almost dairy-like mouthfeel with all of its sweetness perfectly balances out the hop forward character of this cold brew. Speaking of dairy, I know a lot of people mix cream or milk into cold brew and I would strongly recommend against that. It may be awesome, but my guess is that these flavors would not do well with dairy! I absolutely love this new Hop Toddy version and I can’t wait to try the Origin and Orange Blossom and see what they have to offer. Thanks to Daniel for getting this “spinoff” going with Oddly Correct and I hope to see the locator map’s red dots spreading outside of Kansas City so people all over the country can enjoy Hop Toddy!