A Cold IPA Primer

Cold IPAs are suddenly a hot topic in the world of craft beer, and we are right in the thick of it with Hopnosis, our new-age West Coast IPA that also happens to be, yes, a Cold IPA.

At its most fundamental level, a Cold IPA is an IPA that is brewed with lager yeasts at colder temperatures, creating a crisp, drinkable yet generously hopped India Pale Ale.

According to Brewmaster Matt Brynildson, the use of lager yeast provides a cleaner aroma profile compared to more ester-driven aromas that arise from traditional ale yeasts. He adds, “The colder fermentation also creates a lighter backbone that helps accentuate the bright, tropical hops that we use for a beer like Hopnosis.”

As a result, Hopnosis rings all the bells of a Cold IPA: crisp, crushable, and high on hop flavor.

What’s A Cold IPA?

So what, precisely, is a Cold IPA? The challenge with emergent beer styles is how you define them – how rigid, or flexible, should the definition be? Is it more about the process (how it’s brewed) or the outcome (how it tastes)?

Brewmaster Kevin Davey at Wayfinder Beer is known as the Pied Piper of Cold IPAs. He’s the one who coined the term, and who paved the way for this hybrid style: an IPA brewed with lager yeast at colder temperatures, but not so cold that it becomes an IPL, or India Pale Lager.

Another wrinkle is the fact that Kevin also uses adjuncts, such as rice or corn, to help “lean out” or lighten up the body of the beer. The purpose is to provide fermentable sugars for “high attenuation” – a higher conversion of sugar to alcohol to achieve a drier beer profile.

It begs the question: must a beer be made with adjuncts in order to be called a Cold IPA? We believe not.

With Hopnosis, we achieve high attenuation with an all-malt mash (ie. no adjuncts). At the risk of getting too technical, we do this with thorough step mashing, amylase enzyme additions, and the use of lager yeasts that are more attenuative by nature.

As Matt puts it, “To me, the key is linked to fermentation profile, attenuation, and drinkability, not whether the beer is brewed with adjuncts – and Kevin agrees with me on that point.” This is where outcome ultimately trumps process when it comes to defining the style.

If you haven’t hopped aboard the Cold IPA train yet, grab a can of Hopnosis and find out what the hype is all about.