A Cold IPA is More Than Just an IPL
Cold IPAs are sprouting up everywhere so I figured it was time we all learned what they are. They’re kind of like IPLs, or India Pale Lagers, but there’s a bit more to it.
*Sidenote: India Pale Lager isn’t even a category for the Judge Certification Program. When judged they are done so under IPA.
Some breweries have just called this a rebranding. Which makes complete sense. I personally would order an IPA before an IPL. The difference between an IPA and an IPL is simply the yeast strain. You use a lager yeast strain in the brew process, instead of an ale yeast strain, and you get an India Pale Lager. So how is a Cold IPA any different, if they use a lager yeast strain and it tastes hop forward?
Fore more on the difference between Lagers and Ales, click HERE.
Wayfinder Beer Company
To answer this, we have to go all the way back to the pre-Covid days of 2018. Wayfinder Beer company in Portland, OR was the first brewery to put ‘Cold IPA’ on their menu. Their goal was simply to make the west coast IPA even better. They wanted “excessive hoppiness but with a cleaner finish.”
Wayfinder did more than just switch to a lager yeast. They also changed the grain bill by using rice and corn. They switched up the hops they normally use, and they dry hopped later than they normally do.
You may argue…this still sounds like an India Pale Lager. But another difference is the hops. Lagers tend to use Noble Hops, or old school hops, while Cold IPAs lean toward New World Hops, or mix up old and new. If you wanted to brew one, some recommended hops are Cascade, Centennial, Comet and Chinook.
So basically, the Cold IPA is different than an IPL because it uses a different type of grain bill, it uses New School hops instead of old, and it gets dry hopped later in the fermentation process. And ta da! You get a higher ABV hop forward beer with the crisp and clean flavor you love in a lager.
Why Call it a Cold IPA?
But why call it a Cold IPA?! While beer using ale yeast strains, including India Pale Ales, tend to ferment at warmer temperatures, lager yeast tends to ferment at COLDer temperatures. Hence the COLD before the IPA. But the kicker here, is the lager yeast in a these newly popular beers, is fermented at a warmer temperature than other beers with lager yeast, but it’s still colder than what an ale yeast ferments at.
I personally think it is also an attempt to rebrand the underrated IPL. HOWEVER, I will say as an avid IPA fan of both east and west coast IPAs, I highly recommend trying any Cold IPA you find. I haven’t been disappointed yet, and in general find them to be better than India Pale Lagers.
I Hope They're Here to STAY!
So, in conclusion I hope Cold IPAs stick around, because I love them. They’re the newer more improved version of a west coast IPA. Wayfinder achieved their goal. Hoppy and crisp. CHEERS!
If you want to know exactly how Wayfinder brews this new style of beer, you can find all the info right on their website.