What is a cold IPA, really? We’ve explored that topic plenty in the pages of the magazine and on the podcast, but we always come back to Kevin Davey’s description of it as “wester than West Coast”—i.e., it should have the hop flavor and bitterness of a West Coast–style IPA, but also the crispness and drinkability of a pale lager. Davey’s design includes body-lightening adjuncts (rice) and lager yeast, fermented at ale-like temperatures... but are there other ways to get to that destination?
In our Spring 2023 issue, we published a Brewer’s Perspective piece from Firestone Walker brewmaster Matt Brynildson. In it, he makes a compelling argument that a cold IPA doesn’t necessarily need the adjuncts to be a cold IPA, and that it can be all-malt—but it still must be well attenuated, dry, and crisp in body and finish. In other words, no matter how you get there, it still has to be “wester than West Coast.”
To test the argument, we include a fresh cold IPA recipe from Sam Tierney, head brewer at Firestone Walker’s Propagator in Los Angeles. There are two ways to brew it: Go with the rice, or go with the extra-pale pilsner. (And if you brew either one or both, we’d love to know how it turns out.)
Also be sure to check out Tierney’s own piece, Lagers in All but Name, on the long-running commercial practice of using lager yeast to make ale—more support for the idea that when it comes to style or even just to success, it’s the final product that matters most.
Batch size: 5 gallons (19 liters)
Brewhouse efficiency: 72%