Nitrogenated beer has been around for some time. The beer is infused with nitrogen, which gives it a cascading effect when poured into a glass. It is this effect that makes the beer trendy and popular among beer takers.
Typically, traditional brewers use more carbon dioxide than nitrogen when pressurizing beer. This allows the beer to create foam and fizz. However, nitro brewers use nitrogen from nitrogen generators to make the beer creamer and less bitter. Besides, nitrogen makes the beer thicker, smoother, and good for the mouth.
But despite nitro beer being trendy, only a few people know how it is brewed. They also know very little about the ingredient used and how it differs from other beers. This post looks at nitro beer, its ingredients, and how it differs from other beers.
What Is Nitro Beer
Nitro beer contains less CO2 but more nitrogen gas hence its name. The beer is less acidic than other beers. Therefore, it cannot affect the user’s gut and teeth. Also, since nitrogen does not dissolve easily, the taker does not take in more gas.
As mentioned, Nitrogenated beer has been around for several centuries. However, Guinness officially launched the first nitro beer in the 1950s. Before that, the available forms of nitrogenated beer were mainly consumed in England. The English brewers conditioned this beer in cellars at 12.8 °C. They then used hand pumps to pressurize it with air before bottling it. Unfortunately, the air contained 78% nitrogen and 21% oxygen. The oxygen was too much and so it oxidized the ole if the beer was not consumed within 2 days.
In 1959, Michael Ash designed a two-chamber keg container to hold nitrogen and CO2 in one chamber and ole in another. The ole mixed with nitrogen and CO2 as it moved to the tap. Thus, he discovered Guinness stout. As a result, pub goers could serve cold stout from the keg tap.
How It Differs from Other Beers
Nitro beer does not differ much from other beers. However, it has a higher alcohol-by-volume content and contains nitrogen. Typically, its ABV is about 7%, which is slightly higher than regular beer’s 4-5% ABV.
The modern nitro beer comprises 70-75% nitrogen and 25-30% carbon dioxide. It is the nitrogen gas that creates fizz, and the bubble foam we see in the beer. Nitro brewers use CO2 and nitrogen to enhance the beer’s shelf life, while nitrogen gives it the taste, aroma, and mouthfeel of nitro beer.
Note that nitrogen is insoluble at normal temperature and pressure. So, it explains the profuse bubbles and cascading waterfall that form when you pour the beer into a glass. The dissolved nitrogen escapes through the bubble.
CO2, which forms during fermentation, dissolves in water to form carbonic acid, giving the nitro beer a bitter taste. On the other hand, nitrogen is inert, meaning it will not react with anything during the process. So, it escapes as gas when poured into a glass.
For many years, Guinness draught was the only nitro beer in the market. However, the discovery of metallic keg containers made it possible for other brewers to start brewing nitro beer. This has enabled them to introduce different brands of nitro beer into the market. As a result, you can now enjoy a cold nitro beer at any time.