What Is A Cold IPA?

From high ABV to low ABV, East Coast to West Coast, the IPA just seems to keep reinventing itself. Just a few years removed from the bang-and-fizzle of the Brut IPA, we find ourselves smack in the middle of another fad – the Cold IPA.

But does the Cold IPA have what it takes to stay?

Odds are that a taproom near you has a Cold IPA on tap. If not, then you might be living in the middle of nowhere. But even the middle of nowhere has good beers these days, including Cold iPAs.

How are Cold IPAs Made?

The Cold IPA is just like any other type of beer — brewed with water, yeasts, grains, etc. However, Cold IPAs follow a specific brewing process that differs ever so slightly from the normal IPA brew.

Unlike a typical IPA, Cold IPAs tend to have a stronger malt flavor. Of course, that isn’t to say that Cold IPAs lack any amount of hop flavor; instead, the flavor is a little more balanced. These beers are usually bitter, but the balance of malt and hop doesn’t leave you cringing thinking about the early 2010’s Sierra Nevada and whatever terrible music you were listening to at the time. Nope, these are much more approachable, even to the point where I’ve had non-IPA drinkers try them and say, “oh that’s not as bad as I was expecting.”

Cold IPAs eschew the fruity hop forward of Hazy IPAs and scoff at the over-bittered West Coast IPA. Instead, Cold IPAs combine the best of both worlds, bringing East and West Coast together in wonderful harmony. The result is blending a smooth malt with a cold, crispy boi that doesn’t lack ABV.

When enjoying your Cold IPA, your first thought might be, “this isn’t really that cold.” Well, it should be as cold as just about every other beer on tap, considering it is all in the same cooler. With that in mind, it might shock you to hear that Cold IPAs don’t get their name from their temperatures…excactly. 

What Makes a Cold IPA Cold?

A Cold IPA is “cold” because of the colder-than-typical brewing process — that is, colder-than-typical for ales. Cold IPAs follow parts of lager recipes, including lower temperature fermenting and sometimes even lager yeasts over traditional ale yeasts.

Granted, brewers use all sorts of different processes when brewing beers, and they don’t all follow the same exact recipe. That would make beer suck.

No, instead of copying each other exactly, brewers might opt to lean heavier on lager yeast at a warmer fermenting temperature. Others may not use lager yeast at all, instead going with a more traditional IPA mixture, albeit at a lower fermenting temperature.

What’s the difference between a Cold IPA and a Brut IPA?

The Cold IPA and Brut IPA styles both start with a traditional IPA recipe, then are tweaked. For a Cold IPA, this means using a different type of malt, like maybe a Pilsner malt. For a Brut IPA, this means adding in the enzyme amylase which, long story short, makes the beer more alcoholic and much drier, sort of like a Brut champagne.

So, the similarities are that they’re both beer, specifically IPAs. And the similarities end right about there.

Where Can I Find a Cold IPA?

I have no idea where you can find a Cold IPA! I don’t know where you live. Try a local taproom.

Thomas Short
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