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The Best Cold IPAs (AKA Every Brewer’s New Favorite Beer), Ranked

The rise of craft brewing over the past few decades has led to an increase in unique, innovative, and exciting beer styles. We’re talking about the New England IPA, various experimental fruited sours, barrel-aged stouts and porters, milkshake IPAs, and countless other popular takes on old standards. This constant push for innovation means we’re never surprised to hear about a new beer style catching on.

Today, we’re turning our attention to the newest “it beer.” The very trendy, very tasty Cold IPA.

Back in 2018, Portland, Oregon’s Wayfinder Brewing created this style when it released Relapse IPA. The brew was made to pay tribute to Relapse Records and the goal was to craft an over-the-top version of a West Coast IPA. They wanted a beer that was dry, hoppy, and clean but with a finish that was crisp and refreshing, not an oily dank bomb. To do this, they used pilsner malts, adjunct lager malts (like rice and corn), and lager yeast.

In essence, they melded lager tactics with an India pale ale’s vibe. Taken all together, they’ve made something wholly unique.

Weirdly, the Cold IPAs name has nothing to do with temperature. Cold IPAs are simply crisper and closer to India pale lagers than your average West Coast IPA, while also having some fruity characteristics like your favorite New England IPA but without the haziness. Overall, they’re exciting, thirst-quenching, and growing in popularity every day.

It’s time to get on the bandwagon — so we’re calling out some examples for you to try below. Naturally, I ranked them based on my own palate, but trust me this list is Kendall Roy approved (ABATT).

8) Bell’s Cold Hearted

Bell’s Cold Hearted
Bell

ABV: 7%

Average Price: Limited Availability

The Beer:

Like all Cold IPAs, Bell’s doesn’t want drinkers to mistake this beer for an India pale lager. It’s dry-hopped with Centennial hops during fermentation. It also contains specialty malts, lager yeast, and cane sugar. This creates its signature crisp, piney, and citrus flavor.

Tasting Notes:

This beer’s nose is bready, piney, and yeasty with some resinous pine and slight citrus. The palate continues this trend with bread-like malts, some citrus, and a slight fruity flavor, but… not much else. There’s little to no piney hop flavor.

Overall, a decent example of the style, but not overly thrilling.

Bottom Line:

Cold Hearted is a good take on the style. Like we mentioned above, it’s not the most exciting example of a Cold IPA, but it gets the job done.

7) Rogue Ales Knuckle Buster

Rogue Ales Knuckle Buster
Rogue Ales

ABV: 6.1%

Average Price: $11 for a six-pack

The Beer:

This 6.1 percent ABV Cold IPA was created to pay tribute to hard-working people everywhere. Brewed with pilsner malts, flaked rice, and Belma, Nelson Sauvin, Hallertau Blanc, Motueka, Comet, and Cascade hops, it’s known for its balance between malts, hop bitterness, and pine.

Tasting Notes:

This beer has a really fruity nose highlighted by aromas of ripe berries, guava, mango, and tangerines, as well as sweet malts and pine needles. On the palate, you’ll find flavors of resinous, dank pine, bread-like malts, tropical fruits, and piney hop bitterness at the finish.

Bottom Line:

Knuckle Buster is definitely not a bad beer but leans a little too far in the fruity flavor and not enough in the malts for my liking.

6) Hopworks Winter Ritual

Hopworks Winter Ritual
Hopworks

ABV: 6.7%

Average Price: $12 for a four-pack of 16-ounce cans

The Beer:

Released back in November, this Cold IPA is brewed with El Dorado, Citra, and Azacca hops as well as 2-Row and DextraPils malts and Flaked Rice. The result is a crisp, light, and highly drinkable. This is a well-balanced IPA that stays true to the style.

Tasting Notes:

On the nose, you’ll find aromas of orange peels, lemon curd, tropical fruits, grapefruit, and slightly sweet malts. The palate reveals notes of pine, apricot, tangerine, grapefruit, mango, honey, and bready malts. The finish is slightly piney with a gentle, dry ending.

Bottom Line:

Hopworks Winter Ritual is a great example of brewers taking the Cold IPA style and running with it. It’s fruity, piney, dry, and crisp, making it a great beer any time of year.

5) Reuben’s Brews Stay Frosty

Reuben’s Brews Stay Frosty
Reuben’s Brews

ABV: 6.9%

Average Price: $11 for a six-pack

The Beer:

This Cold IPA was brewed with ale yeast, Weyermann Pils and Gambrinus Pils malts, as well as flaked rice and Simcoe, Centennial, Columbus, and Cascade hops. It’s known for its clean sweet flavor, piney hops, and crisp finish.

Tasting Notes:

The nose features grassy notes, pine needles, floral hops, and nice, tangy citrus notes. Drinking it surfaces flavors of clover honey, bready, sweet malts, spruce tips, tangerines, lime zest, all with a crisp, bitter, memorable finish.

Bottom Line:

This is a complex, well-rounded example of the style. It’s also a great gateway into the style for West Coast IPA fans with the myriad Pacific Northwest hops that are featured.

4) pFriem Cold IPA

pFriem Cold IPA
pFriem

ABV: 6.2%

Average Price: Limited Availability

The Beer:

pFriem is a big name in the craft beer world. It’s no surprise the Hood River, Oregon-based brewery tried its hand at the Cold IPA craze. This version is brewed with Gambrinus Pilsner and Rahr Old World pilsner malts as well as lager yeast, rice, and Mosaic and Strata hops.

Tasting Notes:

At first sniff, it’s obvious this is a very fruity beer. There are notes of grapefruit, pineapple, honeydew melon, and tons of bright citrus that moves into pine and slightly sweet, bready malts. On the palate, you’ll find hints of lemon curd, honey, sweet malts, more tropical notes, and a crisp, dry finish.

Bottom Line:

This is an interesting beer. It smells like an explosion of fruit, but while there is a ton of fruit in the taste, it’s not overwhelming and allows the malts and hops to shine through with a real balance to everything.

3) Wayfinder Cold IPA

Wayfinder Cold IPA
Wayfinder

ABV: 7%

Average Price: $6 for a 16-ounce can

The Beer:

The originator of the Cold IPA still makes one (Relapse IPA was a limited-edition beer). This iteration is made with an adjunct lager malt bill, two-row American pilsner malt, lager yeast fermentation, and dry-hopped.

Tasting Notes:

Complex aromas of orange zest, ripe berries, tropical fruits, and a light malty flavor fill your nostrils. The palate follows suit with more ripe berries, tangerines, grapefruit, fruit esters, dried hay, bready, sweet malts, and gentle, dry bitterness that leaves you wanting more.

Bottom Line:

If you’re only going to try one Cold IPA, make it Wayfinder. They invented the style and it’s always a great idea to start your journey at the beginning.

2) Fremont Brewing Baxter

Fremont Brewing Baxter
Fremont

ABV: 7%

Average Price: $5 for a 16-ounce can

The Beer:

Fremont’s Cold IPA is named for a pet, lovingly named Baxter. It’s brewed with Pilsner and 2-row pale malts, flaked corn, as well as Citra, Cryo, Centennial, Citra, and Strata hops. The result is a blast of tropical fruit that’s a perfect for spring.

Tasting Notes:

Ripe pineapple, mango, guava, and grapefruit dominate the nose with ripe berries, wet grass, and dank pine. The palate follows along with more grapefruit, juicy pineapple, citrus zest, sweet malts, and more resinous floral pine. It all ends with a slightly bitter, sweet, and fruity finish.

Bottom Line:

This is a Cold IPA for fans of fruity IPAs. It has the notable IPA bitterness and dank pine, but it’s the tropical fruit flavor that takes center stage, which makes it really shine and nearly top this list.

1) Ecliptic Cold IPA

Ecliptic Cold IPA
Ecliptic

ABV: 8%

Average Price: Limited Availability

The Beer:

This limited-edition beer was a collaboration between Wayfinder and Ecliptic. This Cold IPA was brewed using lager yeast and pilsner malts as well as Talus and Pacific Sunrise hops. The result is one of the best examples of the style you can find (if you can actually find it).

Tasting Notes:

Aromas of ripe pineapple, grapefruit, sweet malts, berries, and bright pine meet your nose before your first sip. Drinking it highlights flavors like cantaloupe, caramelized pineapple, bready malts, passionfruit, citrus zest, and just a hint of dank pine needles. The finish is clean, bittersweet, and dry.

Bottom Line:

Even though this wasn’t the original Cold IPA, we believe this is the best example of the style. It’s sweet, clean, crisp, and dry. It’s also tasty as all get out — everything you could want in a Cold IPA.

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