We got a new toy last week, a special stout tap for nitro beers! Just in time for St. Patricks Day we’ll have our first nitro beer on tap, a special keg of our Sweater Weather Oatmeal Stout. Who knew that that beer could get any smoother!
If you’re not familiar with ‘nitro’ beer, think of Guinness, who brought nitro beer to the masses over a half a century ago with their famous stout. Guinness Stout has lower carbonation and a creamy, smooth milkshake-like texture to it.
Nitrogen gas (N2) produces a smoother mouthfeel and texture than plain old CO2 carbonation, which gives beer a prickly bite. A lot of the difference comes from the fact that Nitrogen gas doesn’t dissolve in water (or beer) like CO2, so the gas has a more subtle effect on the beer.
Part of a nitro setup involves a special tap, which has a restrictor plate that forces the beer through tiny holes before it lands in the glass. We also have a special gas mixing regulator, that blends the right proportions of N2 and CO2. Of course you also have to start out with a beer that has lower carbonation levels, about half of what we typically do for our other beers.
Then it’s practice, practice, practice until you master the art of the nitro pour. It may take all of your patience to wait until your pint is ready! Any beers on nitro will only be available in 16 oz pints, so no growlers, tasters or 8 oz glasses.
We’re hoping to use this toy occasionally when we have a tap open and to try it out on some of our other dark and/or maltier beers.