So, we all (should) know how Cold IPA started. Wayfinder defined them pretty clearly - lager yeast at ale temperatures, adjuncts like rice and corn (and/or they said) and a few other details, roughly stating the body/taste profile expected for it, but the base tenets were clear.
A few years after the fad became something resembling a style, but a discussion with some friends on the craft beer scene, certainly not ignorant, has lead me to rethink that. A brewery released a “Rice Cold IPA”. And I’d joked that someone should tell them it’s supposed to have rice anyway (they just used pilsner malt previously, no adjuncts). At least two friends, both knowledgeable and working for breweries (in multiple countries) then noted that they hadn’t heard of rice being used / adjuncts “having to be used” - partly due to not reading up on the style’s genesis, partly just due to not running into beers like that.
Looking at the top 50 beers tagged with cold IPA, I’ve noted that it’s a clusterfuck. Of course, there might be hundreds more not visible and not tagged, but it showed brewers using both lager and ale yeasts, no adjuncts at all, even complex malt bills seemingly, sometimes they’ll get the grain bill right and use an ale yeast (works), sometimes they’ll use lager yeast at ale temperatures but use no adjuncts (okay). If I had to guess, maybe half are kinda following the basic tenets of the style. And among the other half, there are some that seemingly follow absolutely zero. I mean, I just added a Czech “Cold IPA”, with ale yeast (Verdant in fact), zero rice or corn, but rather wheat and oats, grains pretty much used to create the opposite effect from the one stated at the style’s genesis! And it’s not the only one, not by far.
So how do you describe it in the end when all is said and done? “An IPA that’s kinda supposed to taste cold?” I mean, brewer’s intent (lol) and all, it’s pretty ridiculous at times. It might be the quickest a wannabe style, turned actual style, just turned into a basic marketing slogan.
PS. That doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be added on here as a style. It exists and is popular enough. Technically. But the borders are extremely blurry indeed, and Venn diagrams overlap too much or even fully sometimes with other styles…