WHAT MAKES COLD IPA STYLE BEER?
Written by Sam Loader
The world of brewing is constantly evolving as brewers try to push the boundaries, stand out and make their mark. So far the competition and creativity in the brewing community have yielded some weird and wonderful results like pastry stouts and the plethora of new IPA styles (like the Cold IPA). One of the new IPA styles has been ‘dubbed’ the Cold IPA. This name can be confusing as, besides the beer being served cold, the ‘cold’ aspect describes no differences in the beer brewing process. To top that, this style of beer doesn’t necessarily conform to the IPA either, so what is a Cold IPA?
This style often aims to be a crisper version of the American IPA, by predominantly making use of pilsner malt with up to 40% corn and/or rice. You’re probably thinking “hold on, this is sounding a lot like an IPL (India Pale Lager)?” You’re right, they are fairly similar. However, Cold IPAs seem to have picked up where the IPL left off.
There are many good IPLs out there, but sometimes the components don’t come together as polished as more well-defined styles. This is because the IPL is either a ‘hoppy lager’ where the brewer has hopped their lager like an IPA, or it is an IPA that is fermented with lager yeast. Oftentimes, the IPL comes across as a mix of the Lager and IPA styles.
How Is a Cold IPA Hopped?
The Cold IPA is hopped somewhere between that of a West Coast IPA and a NEPA/Hazy IPA – the crispness of the malt bill needs support from a mild bitterness to increase drinkability across several pints.
This beer is whirlpool/dry-hopped like a NEPA/Hazy IPA with plenty of New World hops to get that biotransformed, fruit-forward hop character.
WHAT YEAST IS USED WHEN BREWING A COLD IPA ?
Now for the kicker. This style is often brewed using Fermentis 34/70 lager yeast.
“But wait, you said this wasn’t an IPL?” Yes, this style is often brewed with lager yeast, but these are typically hybrid lager strains that ferment at around 19°C (66.2°F) like California Common and Kölsch yeasts. These warm fermenting hybrid lager ale strains promote biotransformation in the dry hopping to promote tropical and citrus fruit flavours.
WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN BREWING A COLD IPA
The name ‘Cold IPA’ doesn’t provide a lot of insight into what to expect when drinking the beer so, for clarity, I have started to call these beers ‘HAHAs’: Hoppy Adjunct Hybrid Ales (and to poke a bit of fun at how it seems that every new style is some form of an IPA). I have brewed a few batches of this style now and I like that it seems to bridge a gap, taking people from NEPA/Hazy IPAs towards West Coast and Modern IPAs.
When brewing this style, I aim for the parameters of an IPA. I use a pilsner malt and flaked rice for the grain bill, tempering this with a malty water profile and a slightly warmer mash temperature.
With the hops, I aim for a 40–70 IBU finish. To do this, I aim for a 25-55 IBU boil and whirlpool bitterness. The expectation is that approximately 15 IBU comes from hop polyphenols etc. during the dry hop. Being in New Zealand, I tend to use NZ hops for the boil and whirlpool predominantly due to the cost. I also find the petrol/thiol characters of NZ hops lend themselves very well to biotransformation. They also compliment the other New World dry hops.
Finally, the yeast. I have used 34/70 and have found that pushing the yeast can lead to temperamental results. Nowadays, I tend to use a California Common or Kölsch yeast and ferment at the recommended temperatures.