One of the latest trends at local pubs is to offer beer on nitro. Short for nitrogen, enjoying your favorite beverage in this manner changes the mouthfeel and flavor of the beer. Many beer drinkers feel the nitrogen adds an enjoyable complexity to the drink. So what does this mean, and how do they do it? Here’s a quick overview of what beer on nitro is and why you may want to give it a try the next time you’re out for a drink.
How is nitrogen used to create beer on nitro?
Let’s start by looking at how beer is usually served in restaurants or bars. The beer is located in a keg connected to a tap. A separate tank pushes carbon dioxide into the keg, which shoots the beer into a hose and to the tap. The carbon dioxide isn’t just helpful for getting the beer out of the tap–it also adds carbonation (the bubbles) to the liquid.
When a restaurant or bar serves beer on nitro from a tap, that means they are using a combination of nitrogen and carbon dioxide to extract the liquid from the keg. Usually, the mix is about 70% nitrogen and 30% carbon dioxide. Alternatively, the beer can be nitrogenated before packaging in pressure-sealed kegs. Nitrogen is insoluble in liquid and produces an abundance of teeny, tiny bubbles–making the beer frothy. Dedicated nitro drafts have a restrictor plate that forces the beer through tiny holes, allowing dissolved nitrogen gas in the beverage to escape quickly. As a result, the beverage is creamier, frothier, and has a whirlpool of tiny bubbles dancing in it.
Which beers taste best on nitro?
You will usually find a darker porter or stout served on nitro. Since the nitrogen gives the beer a thicker, creamier mouthfeel, that texture works best with a coffee, chocolate, or caramel-like flavor. The nitrogen does something else to the beer, too. It cuts down on the hoppiness, so a beer that leans more towards malts is enhanced by the additional nitrogen.
As the craze for beer on nitro has taken off, people are exploring more beer options on nitrogen. Today you may find a double IPA served on nitro for a slightly different spin on this popular drink. It also works well with milkshake IPAs, fruited sours, and dessert-forward stouts. It’s well worth your time to try these interesting combinations because you never know what might particularly appeal to your taste buds.
Can you buy a canned beer on nitro?
Yes, in fact, Guinness has been doing it for years. You know that plastic ball inside a can of Guinness? It’s called a widget, and it’s filled with nitrogen that surges with bubbles when you crack the top. Other breweries are jumping on the bandwagon too. Recreating a nitro experience in a can is a complicated, scientific process, but those brewers who figure out a successful method have created some fantastic beers. Today, you can find a variety of beers–mostly porters and stouts–on nitro in cans to enjoy at home.
Visit The Growler Guys to experience new styles of beer.
Explore the growing variety of beers in one taproom, The Growler Guys. Each location carries the best local varieties, from the palest ales to the darkest stouts, along with ciders and kombucha. Our friendly staff is happy to walk you through the characteristics of every style to help you discover your personal favorites. Take home the beers you love best in a growler to share with family and friends. View our online tap list to learn about the available selections at a location near you.