Podcast Episode 175: Kevin Davey of Wayfinder Sets the Record Straight on “Cold IPA”

The head brewer at Wayfinder in Portland, Oregon, discusses their unique approach to making “wester than West Coast” IPAs with rice in the grist, warm-fermented lager yeast, and a kräusening process.

Jamie Bogner Feb 26, 2021 - 7 min read

Podcast Episode 175: Kevin Davey of Wayfinder Sets the Record Straight on “Cold IPA” Primary Image

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Kevin Davey doesn’t understand why Wayfinder’s “Cold IPA” has gone viral in brewing circles. As a proponent of genre-bending approaches to brewing that respect traditions but recombine them in effective ways, he’s been vocal in the past about what they’re doing—making “IPA” in a way that respects the flavor while twisting the technique. They haven’t been hiding anything. So why the hubbub now?

The beer at the center of the “beer Internet’s” latest furor is Relapse, a beer they’ve dubbed a “Cold IPA”—much to the chagrin of those IPL advocates and style-guide purists who insist nothing of the sort can exist. It’s definitely not “traditional”—mashed with a grist of 30 percent rice, fermented with 34/70 lager yeast, and kräusened with pils or helles wort when dry-hopped, it doesn’t appear on paper to be connected to the broader school of West Coast IPA. But taste it and you’ll understand how these curious methods produce a beer that feels perfectly aligned with the conceptual ideas that have driven West Coast IPA for the past two decades.

It’s worth noting, of course, that the beer in question—Relapse Cold IPA—was a Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine Beer of the Year in 2020. The quality and technical execution of the beer is beyond reproach, and the creativity in process is, of course, just icing on the cake. In this genre-busting episode, Davey discusses:

  • The impact of step-mashing on yeast health and effective fermentation
  • Using American malt for higher enzymes to work with rice and corn adjuncts when cereal mashing
  • The benefits of brewing with rice
  • Importance to flavor and aroma of boiling hops (and not just dry hopping)
  • Balancing fruitiness and bitterness in hoppy beers
  • Fermenting during dry hopping to encourage hop creep and to dry out the beer, and kräusening with pilsner or helles wort
  • Finding language that does justice to the intent of a beer in a way that connects with consumers

“I loved California West Coast IPA when I first started in the industry,” Davey says. “And so I’m like, ‘What if we just take that further? Let’s make it even clearer. Let’s make it even less caramel-y. Let’s make it even drier.’ That’s why—on the can—we say it’s ‘wester than West Coast,’ because we’re taking all the things that are already West Coast and we’re just pushing them a little bit further.”

This episode is brought to you by:

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Jamie Bogner is the Cofounder and Editorial Director of Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine®. Email him at [email protected].