Nitro beer is becoming increasingly popular among craft breweries as they adopt the nitriding method to enhance their lineup of beverages. While carbon dioxide has traditionally been used to infuse bubbles into beer, some brewers are now turning to nitrogen for a different twist on their favorite drink.
What is Nitro Beer?
Nitro beer is made using nitrogen gas instead of carbon dioxide. This results in a smoother and creamier appearance and taste, thanks to the smaller bubbles created by the interaction between nitrogen and beer. Nitrogen is insoluble in liquids, giving nitro beers a “heavier” mouthfeel.
Carbonation and Nitriding
Both carbonation and nitriding have their advantages and disadvantages in the brewing process. Carbonation, a traditional method, produces beer with larger bubbles and a lively texture. On the other hand, nitrogen creates smaller bubbles compared to carbonated beer.
The debate over which process creates the best beer continues. Ultimately, consumers judge based on their subjective expectations of appearance and taste.
How Nitrogen Changed Beer
By combining nitrogen and carbon dioxide under high pressure, brewers can create nitro beer. Nitrogen is more resistant to dissolution than carbon dioxide, allowing for high barrel pressure and low carbon content. Different types of beer require different pressure levels for nitrogenation.
The cascading effect seen in a glass of nitrogenized beer is due to the different rates of dissolution. Nitrogen bubbles gather at the sides of the cup while carbon dioxide bubbles rise from the middle. Using a restrictor in front of the tap produces small air bubbles, resulting in a thick, creamy head and a smoother mouthfeel.
Gas Composition of Nitro Beer
Nitro beer typically consists of a 70% nitrogen and 30% carbon dioxide mixture known as “beer gas.” Nitrogenated beers have no oxygen, which helps preserve their flavor by minimizing oxidation. When ordered, the beer is forced through a fine sieve, removing carbon dioxide and creating a highly carbonated beer.
Nitrogen Use in Breweries
Nitrogen is used to purge brewing tanks or kegs between uses to prevent oxidation and spoiling of the next batch. It is also used to displace or remove oxygen in tanks as oxygen can accelerate spoilage. Additionally, nitrogen can be used to transfer beer between cans or as an alternative to carbon dioxide for pressurizing cans.
Benefits of Using Nitrogen in a Brewery
Aside from extending shelf life and enhancing taste, on-site nitrogen generation systems offer cost savings and convenience for breweries:
- Cost: On-site nitrogen supply can save 40-75% compared to delivery of nitrogen or carbon dioxide tanks. Shipping rates vary, and distance from the gas facility can increase costs for some breweries, adding to beer expenses.
- Mixing with CO2: Nitrogen and CO2 can be mixed when recovered CO2 is insufficient, providing a more cost-effective solution than using CO2 alone.
- Easy to use: Nitrogen production is not limited by the wine fermentation process and offers simple operation, quick start, and anytime availability.
Turnkey Craft Brewery
If you’re interested in starting a craft beer equipment factory, consider incorporating nitrogen into your operations. Our engineers can provide a fully customized turnkey solution tailored to your brewery’s needs and expansion plans. Contact us today for assistance with designing and manufacturing brewery equipment.