Cold IPA: Exploring the Hottest Trend in Craft Beer

Are you ready to embark on a frosty journey to discover the coolest trend in the craft beer world?

Welcome to the exciting realm of Cold IPA, a unique hybrid beer style that combines the best of both worlds: the hoppy flavors of an IPA and the refreshing crispness of a lager.

Sit back, grab a cold one, and let’s explore the origins, characteristics, and future of this delectable brew together.

Short Summary

  • Discover the exciting combination of American hops and lager yeast in Cold IPA!
  • Enjoy bold hop aromas, flavors & a tantalizingly crisp finish with this unique beer style.
  • Explore notable brews from Necromancer’s Cold Feet to Wayfinder’s Original Cold IPA – don’t miss out on the future of craft beer!

The Emergence of Cold IPA

The origins of Cold IPA can be traced back to 2017-2018, when the craft beer scene was eager to explore new horizons.

Wayfinder Beer, an innovative brewery based in Portland, Oregon, decided to create a beer that would combine the delicious flavors of an IPA with the refreshing light body of an India Pale Lager (IPL). The result was a beer that stood out from the crowd, capturing the attention of beer enthusiasts and brewers alike.

Wayfinder Beer’s pioneering spirit led to the development of the first Cold IPA, which showcased American hops and a crisp, crushable beer that was fermented using lager yeast at colder temperatures.

As the word spread, more breweries started experimenting with their own versions of Cold IPA, each putting their unique spin on this intriguing new style.

The First Cold IPA: Wayfinder Beer

Wayfinder’s Original Cold IPA was the catalyst for this new beer revolution, featuring a simple grain bill and an abundance of American hops, as well as new-school dry hops. Clean, clear, and hoppy, the Original Cold IPA was like a breath of fresh, frosty air in the craft beer world, paving the way for others to follow.

The success of Wayfinder’s Original Cold IPA inspired many brewers to create their own interpretations of this new style. With a focus on showcasing the hops, these Cold IPAs moved away from the earthy-spicy notes of “old world” varieties and instead embraced the fruity, citrusy flavors of modern hop varieties.

As more breweries experimented with Cold IPAs, the style continued to evolve, developing its own unique identity within the craft beer landscape.

Defining the Cold IPA Style

The Cold IPA style is characterized by its unique combination of IPA and lager elements, resulting in a beer that is both hop-forward and refreshingly crisp.

The use of lager yeast and fermentation techniques creates a clean, dry body that allows the flavors of the hops to shine through.

In this section, we’ll delve deeper into the key aspects that define the Cold IPA style, exploring the role of lager yeast and fermentation, hop aroma and flavor, and the crisp finish and mouthfeel that make this beer so irresistible.

Lager Yeast and Fermentation

Lager yeast plays a crucial role in creating the distinctive profile of a Cold IPA. Unlike ale yeast, which ferments at higher temperatures and imparts fruity esters, lager yeast is a bottom-fermenting yeast that works at lower temperatures, producing a clean, crisp flavor. This clean and crisp profile allows the hop aromas and flavors to take center stage in a Cold IPA.

The fermentation process for Cold IPA involves warm fermentations with lager yeast, which creates a clean, crisp, and dry body that highlights the flavors of the ingredients.

By using lager yeast and pilsner malt, brewers can create a beer that is both refreshing and packed with bold hop flavors. The result is a unique beer style that is both thirst-quenching and full of hoppy goodness.

Hop Aroma and Flavor

Cold IPAs are known for their captivating hop aromas and flavors, which can range from fruity to floral to spicy and earthy. These hop-packed beers typically feature punchy American or New World hops, such as Citra, Simcoe, Strata, and El Dorado.

The hop profile of a Cold IPA is further enhanced by the use of dry hopping during fermentation, a technique borrowed from Italian pilsners.

The resulting hop characteristics of a Cold IPA are nothing short of enchanting, with a fairly bitter taste accompanied by a touch of maltiness and an aroma of dank orange, passionfruit, and citrus.

By using newer hop varieties and avoiding the earthy-spicy notes of older varieties, Cold IPAs showcase the full spectrum of hop flavors, making them a true delight for hop enthusiasts.

Crisp Finish and Mouthfeel

The crisp finish and mouthfeel of a Cold IPA are the cherry on top of this refreshing beer experience. A crisp finish refers to a clean, refreshing taste often associated with lighter beers such as pilsners and lagers.

This crispness may be influenced by factors like carbonation, dryness, and bitterness, all of which contribute to the overall mouthfeel of the beer.

In a Cold IPA, the mouthfeel is characterized by a light, crisp, fruit-flavored body and a dry finish. This delightful combination of flavors and textures makes Cold IPA the perfect beer for those who crave a lighter, more refreshing IPA experience without sacrificing bold hop flavors.

Crafting the Perfect Cold IPA

Brewing the perfect Cold IPA requires a delicate balance of ingredients and techniques, as well as an understanding of the unique characteristics that define this style.

In this section, we’ll explore key aspects of crafting a Cold IPA, including the use of a simple grain bill with adjuncts, dry hopping techniques, and the selection of hybrid yeast strains.

Simple Grain Bill with Adjuncts

The grain bill for a Cold IPA is designed to showcase the hops, with a focus on simplicity and clean flavors. Brewers use a base of pilsner malt, often combined with 20-40% rice or corn as adjuncts, and avoid specialty malts, crystal, and toast varieties.

This simple and clean grain bill allows the hop flavors to take center stage, providing the perfect canvas for the vibrant hop aromas and flavors to shine through.

The target original gravity for a Cold IPA typically falls within the 1.065-1.070 range, providing a solid foundation for the hop-forward character of the beer. By carefully selecting the malt varieties and adjuncts, brewers can create a well-balanced and refreshing Cold IPA that truly highlights the hops.

Dry Hopping Techniques

Dry hopping is a crucial technique in the brewing of Cold IPA, as it allows brewers to add an extra layer of hop aroma to the beer. This process involves adding hops during fermentation, which boosts the hop flavors and aromas in the final beer.

The use of dry hopping in Cold IPA is inspired by Italian Pilsners, which employ this technique to enhance their hop character.

Biotransformation, the transformation of hop oils in the presence of yeast, plays an important role in the dry hopping process of Cold IPA. This technique allows the hops to bring more of a citrusy, fruity aroma than is present directly ‘out-of-the-bag’, creating a captivating and complex hop profile in the finished beer.

Hybrid Yeast Strains

The yeast used in Cold IPA must not overpower the hops, as the focus of this style is on showcasing the vibrant hop flavors.

Some breweries opt to use a blend of lager and ale yeast strains, creating a unique flavor profile that combines the clean, crisp characteristics of lager yeast with the fruity esters of ale yeast.

The recommended temperature range for fermenting a Cold IPA is 60-65°F (16-18°C). By fermenting at these temperatures, brewers can achieve the perfect balance of clean, crisp flavors and bold hop aromas required for a truly exceptional Cold IPA.

Comparing Cold IPA to Other Styles

Cold IPAs stand out from other beer styles due to their unique combination of IPA and lager elements. They are brewed with lager yeast and fermentation techniques, creating a crisp and highly drinkable India Pale Ale that showcases the flavors of American hops.

In comparison, India Pale Lagers (IPLs) usually have a lower alcohol content and feature classic European or noble hop varieties, resulting in a lower overall bitterness.

The distinct characteristics of Cold IPA make it a refreshing alternative to other beer styles, offering a crisp and clear golden yellow color, a fairly bitter taste with a touch of maltiness, and an aroma of dank orange, passionfruit, and citrus.

Its light, crisp, fruit-flavored body and dry finish set it apart from other styles, making it a unique and enticing option for those looking to explore new beer horizons.

Notable Cold IPA Breweries and Beers

As the popularity of Cold IPA continues to grow, several breweries and beers have emerged as notable examples of this exciting new style. Necromancer’s Cold Feet, for instance, sold as fast as their hazy IPAs due to its captivating hop aroma and crushability.

Other noteworthy Cold IPAs include:

The success of these Cold IPAs can be attributed to their unique blend of hop-forward flavors and refreshing lager-like characteristics.

As more breweries experiment with this style, beer enthusiasts can look forward to an ever-expanding roster of delicious and innovative Cold IPAs to enjoy.

The Future of Cold IPA

The future of Cold IPA is filled with exciting possibilities. Gaining popularity in 2020, industry professionals hope that the trend continues, with more breweries venturing into the creation of their own versions of Cold IPA.

As the craft beer scene continues to evolve, Cold IPA has the potential to become a staple in the beer world, appealing to those who crave a lighter, more refreshing IPA experience without sacrificing bold hop flavors.

Only time will tell if Cold IPA can secure its place as a mainstay in the craft beer landscape. However, one thing is certain: with its unique blend of hoppy flavors and crisp, refreshing qualities, Cold IPA is a beer style that is well worth exploring for any adventurous beer enthusiast.


In this frosty journey, we’ve explored the origins, characteristics, and brewing techniques of the exciting and innovative Cold IPA style.

From its beginnings at Wayfinder Beer to its growing popularity among craft beer enthusiasts, Cold IPA has carved out a unique niche in the world of beer.

With its enticing combination of bold hop flavors and crisp, refreshing lager-like qualities, Cold IPA is a style that deserves a place in every beer lover’s heart. So why not take a leap into the icy unknown and discover the frosty delight that is Cold IPA?

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference with a cold IPA?

Cold IPA offers a unique flavor experience, with refreshingly crisp and clean hop notes that tantalize the taste buds! Perfect for hot summer days, this drink is sure to be a favorite of any IPA enthusiast.

Enjoy the best of both worlds with a Cold IPA today!

Are cold IPAs dry hopped?

Yes! Cold IPAs are typically dry-hopped during fermentation, making them bursting with flavour and aroma. If you’re looking for a refreshing beer with that little extra something, cold IPAs are the way to go!

Is IPA best cold?

IPAs are best enjoyed at a slightly warmer temperature than other beers. That’s because their hop flavors are more intense when served at around 50 degrees Fahrenheit, rather than cold.

So if you want to get the most out of your IPA, don’t chill it too much!

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