Define a Style: Cold IPA

Posted by Carla Gesell-Streeter on Mar 08, 2023 at 1:34 PM

The India Pale Ale (IPA) beer style has long been a favorite of craft beer drinkers. With its bold and hoppy flavors, it’s the perfect beer for those who like a bit of bitterness in their brew. But a new kid on the block has been gaining popularity in recent years: the cold IPA.

A Cold IPA is meant to be a showcase for hops. It contains adjuncts like flaked rice or corn (or a combination of the two). Caramel malts are not used since the goal is medium-to-low malt character. While Cold IPAs are brewed with lager yeast, the temperatures are higher or warmer than the usual lager temps.

Many times, a Cold IPA is defined by what it is not. It is not an IPL. It is definitely not a hazy or New England IPA. In fact, sometimes it's described as the antithesis of a New England IPA.

Brewmaster Kevin Davey of Wayfinder Beer in Portland, Oregon has been at least informally credited at the creation of the Cold IPA. In his article on "What is a Cold IPA? on, Davey describes it this way:

"What we ended up with is decisively unique from IPL or Dry hopped lager. It has a magnificent hop aroma, clean assertive bitterness and a bold, clean finish that makes the drinker crave another sip. I felt it needed a name to differentiate it. So it’s a bit Wester than West-coast, it’s crisp and sessionable, but strong and sneaky. It’s Cold IPA."

Last year, Sierra Nevada started brewing a Cold IPA which is part of their Torpedo line. It was included in their Hoppy Sampler Pack and hopefully will be back in the pack this summer.

Cold Torpedo Cold IPA

Several Cincinnati/NKY breweries have Cold IPA offerings. Grainworks Brrr is a Cold IPA that is a nod to the Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow. Available from August through December, it is 6.5% ABV and includes Citra, Simcoe, and Centennial hops.

Grainworks Brrr

Rhinegeist has two Cold IPAs on their beer roster. Pixel - This seasonal offering is available on draft or in cans as part of their Hop Box Variety Pack. It is 7% ABV and uses Centennial, talus, Cascade, Mosaic, Simcoe plus Pilsner, Dextrose malts. It is not currently available.

Rhinegeist Pixel Can

The other one is Cold Fiction. This one is 6.7% ABV. The malts are Pilsner malt and Jasmine rice, and the hops are Motueka and Nelson Sauvin. While the Rhinegeist website lists it as available, no local better beer locations have it listed on their beer lists.

Rhinegeist Cold Fiction

A local Cold IPA offering that is currently available is Wooden Cask's Altered State. This was my first one, and it made a really good impression. The ABV is 6.2%, and it's 61 IBUs. The featured hops are Bravo.

Wooden Cask Altered State

The Cold IPA is a style that is perfect for the warmer weather that is just around the corner (crosses fingers). Check one out soon!

Cheers and here's to better beer (and beverages)!