The Rise of Nitro Brews in the Craft Beer Scene
Greetings, beer lovers! If you’re a fan of craft beer or a casual socializer who enjoys a night out at your favorite pub, chances are you’ve been noticing an increasing trend in nitro brews. They have been dominating the craft beer scene over recent years, and they’re here to stay. In this article, we’ll explore the world of Nitro Brews, diving into their origins, what sets them apart, and why they’re becoming so popular in the United States.
So, sit back, grab a cold nitro brew (if you have one handy), and let’s discover why your 20 to 35-year-old male demographic should be excited about this beer innovation!
Table of Contents
- What are Nitro Brews?
- The Origin of Nitro Brews
- How Nitro Brews Work
- Why Nitro Brews are Gaining Popularity
- Popular Nitro Brews to Try
- How to Serve Nitro Brews at Home
- The Future of Nitro Brews
1. What are Nitro Brews?
Nitro brews, known for their creamy and smooth texture, are a category of beers infused with nitrogen gas. While most beers use carbon dioxide (CO2) as the primary gas to create carbonation, nitro brews incorporate nitrogen (N2) in the brewing process, resulting in smaller and more consistent bubbles.
The microscopic bubbles produced when a nitro brew is poured give the beer its signature creamy head and smooth, velvety mouthfeel. Commonly associated with Stouts (such as the world-famous Guinness Draught), more and more varieties of beer are now available in nitro form, including IPAs, Lagers, and more.
2. The Origin of Nitro Brews
Nitro brews have been around for over six decades, with the very first one, a Nitro Stout being launched in 1959 by the Irish brewery, Guinness. Nitrogen was introduced to the brewing process as a way to achieve a smoother, less acidic taste. It has since become the standard for stouts, and the trend continues to grow.
Fast forward a few decades, and American craft brewers began experimenting with the use of nitrogen in their recipes as well. One of the first notable American craft breweries to do so was the Colorado-based Left Hand Brewing Company, who launched their acclaimed Nitro Milk Stout in 2011. From there, the nitro beer trend spread throughout the United States, catching the attention of craft brew enthusiasts nationwide.
3. How Nitro Brews Work
A key factor in creating nitro brews is the use of a special faucet, called a nitro or stout faucet. This unique piece of equipment allows the beer to be forced through a restrictor plate as it’s poured, causing the nitrogen gas to be released and forming those delightful, tiny bubbles.
Breweries may decide to use a combination of nitrogen and carbon dioxide to create their nitro beers. They usually opt for a gas mixture of 70-75% nitrogen and 25-30% CO2. The exact ratios depend on the style of beer and the desired mouthfeel.
The cans or bottles of nitro brews often come with an internal widget, a small plastic ball, which helps create the desired creaminess upon opening. The widget releases a small amount of nitrogen upon opening the can or bottle, giving that perfect, cascading pour and a creamy head.
4. Why Nitro Brews are Gaining Popularity
The rise of nitro brews in the craft beer scene can be attributed to various factors. Here are a few of the main reasons why:
A Unique Mouthfeel
Nitro brews have a distinct, velvety mouthfeel that sets them apart from carbonated beers. They are known for their smoothness and creaminess, making them an excellent choice for those who enjoy a less “fizzy” beer experience.
The creamy texture of nitro brews provides a fantastic contrast when paired with hearty and flavorful foods. Nitro Stouts and Porters pair exceptionally well with decadent desserts and smoky meats, while lighter Nitro IPAs and Lagers can balance spicy dishes like curry or tacos.
The cascading effect of nitrogen bubbles as a nitro beer is poured is a sight to behold. The gorgeous pour, with its iconic creamy head, has become an alluring feature for nitro brew enthusiasts, making it a must-try experience at pubs and bars.
Nitrogen has a neutral taste, allowing the rich and bold flavors of the beer’s ingredients to shine. Lower acidity levels lead to a smoother beer, accenting the malt profiles more prominently compared to a carbonated counterpart.
5. Popular Nitro Brews to Try
Here is a list of some popular nitro brews that every beer enthusiast should check out:
- Guinness Draught – As the original nitro brew, this Irish Stout is perfect for those wanting to experience where it all began.
Left Hand Brewing Nitro Milk Stout – This American take on the traditional milk stout has a smooth, velvety chocolatey finish.
Samuel Adams Nitro White Ale – The citrus and spice notes in this easy-drinking wheat beer are accentuated by the nitro infusion.
Founders Brewing Nitro Rubaeus – A raspberry-infused ale, this nitro brew offers a creamy yet tart fruit beer experience.
Oskar Blues Old Chub Nitro – This nitro Scotch Ale combines the smooth mouthfeel with flavors of caramel and toffee.
Whether you are a seasoned pub-goer or a curious beer tourist, these nitro brews will offer an exciting and new experience for your taste buds!
6. How to Serve Nitro Brews at Home
If the thought of enjoying nitro brews at home has you salivating, don’t worry – we’ve got you covered! Follow these tips to get the most out of your nitro brew experience at home:
- Acquire your nitro brew: Purchase a canned nitro brew with a built-in widget or a traditional bottled nitro brew from your local liquor store.
Pour with flair: For cans, follow the “hard pour” technique, which involves opening the can and quickly turning it upside down over your glass, letting gravity do the work. For bottled nitro brews, pour the beer at a 45-degree angle down the side of the glass and then straighten the angle halfway through to create the perfect cascade.
Wait for the cascade: Allow the nitrogen bubbles to cascade and form a thick, creamy head. This usually takes around 30 seconds to a minute.
Enjoy: Sip and savor the smooth and creamy texture of your nitro beer!
7. The Future of Nitro Brews
Nitro brews are here to stay, and their future remains promising. As breweries continue to experiment with different beer styles and push the boundaries with unique flavor combinations, nitro brews will continue to capture the attention of both casual drinkers and beer enthusiasts alike.
Moreover, the pub and bar scene will continue to evolve, with an eye on providing an unforgettable experience for patrons while highlighting these unique brews. While Stouts may be the most iconic representative of nitro brews, don’t be surprised if you find yourself enjoying a nitrogen-infused Lager, IPA, or even Sour Ale at your favorite watering hole.
So, the next time you’re out with your friends or wanting to try something new, remember to give nitro brews a shot! Who knows, you might just find your next favorite beer in those tiny, cascading bubbles! Cheers!