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Nitro brews a growing craft beer trend

guinness_cascadeThe smooth, creamy texture of beers like Guinness, Bodington’s and Old Speckled Hen is due to the addition of nitrogen rather than carbon dioxide. Since nitrogen forms much smaller bubbles than CO2, the result is a silky smooth mouthfeel that has won over legions of beer drinkers the world over. The popularity of these beers and the unique sensation and flavors created by nitrogen has contributed to the growing trend among craft brewers to add nitrogen to their beers. Over the past few years more and more brewers have added nitro taps to their tap rooms and begun experimenting with the gas.

Nitrogen is largely insoluble in liquid, which is what contributes to the thick mouth feel. This effect is helped by a special piece of tap equipment known as a restrictor plate that forces the beer through tiny holes before it lands in the glass. That process causes the “rising” effect that is topped with the head. And it’s really only the bubbles on the sides of the glass that fall. Inside they are actually rising, as typically seen with a poured carbonated beverage.

Left Hand Brewing Company of Longmont, Colo. was the first American craft brewer to introduce a bottled nitrogen beer without a widget to dd the gas to the beer. On the first night of the 2011 Great American Beer Festival, Left Hand revealed Milk Stout Nitro in a bottle.

Just a few years later, Tampa brewing powerhouse Cigar City Brewing Company decided to begin a program dedicated to distributing a number of their brews for nitro taps. In 2013 the brewery issued a memo to its distributors that said:

We here at CCB have decided to place a focus on our draft nitro beers. We think the nitro adds a unique aspect to many brands. Our tasting room has two nitro taps and we want to get more nitro beers out into the market.

Since then, the trend has spread to many more breweries who have begun experimenting with putting all manner of beers on tap. Traditionally, beers that are predominantly malt forward have been served on nitro. These beers consist primarily of stouts and porters, but may also include malty ales like Boddington’s. But, as the trend spreads, some brewers are trying the gas with pumpkin ales, red ales and even IPAs to spectacular results.

The trend has become so popular that it has spawned nitro only beer festivals and even a new product that allows homebrewers to turn any beer into a nitro beer. Called NitroBrew, the new device allows beer-lovers to even turn store-bought brews into a smooth, creamy nitrogen masterpiece.

To learn more about the NitroBrew, read the press release below.

New York, NY — NitroBrew, an innovative new technology that nitrogenates any beer at the point of service, is now available to craft beer fans and home brewers at http://nitrobrew.com/shop/.  An ideal Father’s Day gift, NitroBrew is the first commercially available product designed to bring nitrogenating technology into the home, enabling beer lovers to nitrogenate store-bought brews and hobbyist beer brewers to create their own nitro-style brews from scratch.  In under a minute, NitroBrew turns any home-brewed or bottled beer into a sensational, silky nitro-style beer masterpiece.

Nitro-style beers are rapidly gaining popularity among beer connoisseurs and foodies for their smooth mouthfeel and well-rounded flavor.  The nitrogenated beverage trend has also crossed over into cold brew coffee, which NitroBrew can also be used to nitrogenate.

“The precise balance of nitrogen and carbon dioxide in a nitrogenated beer changes dramatically during transportation and storage.  Whether it’s bottled or kegged, it’s impossible for a brewer to control the quality of a nitrogenated beer after it leaves the brewery,” said NitroBrew inventor and 25-year beer industry veteran Murthy Tata. “My colleagues and I developed NitroBrew to deliver a dependable mix of nitrogen and carbon dioxide with every pour at the point of service, whether it’s a bar, a restaurant or at home.”

Each NitroBrew kit includes a kettle, a discreet charging station and a small air compressor.  NitroBrew is easy to use, easy to clean, compact and takes up little storage space.

 
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Posted by on April 2, 2015 in Beer Styles

 

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Why Draft Beer Temperature Matters

micromatic_logo_stacked_300xToday’s post is a Guest Post from Micromatic a company that specializes in beer dispensing equipment.

When you think about draft beer, you’re most likely thinking about the enjoyment of drinking it. What you’re less likely to be aware of is how the temperature of beer systems is absolutely critical for maintaining the perfection of your pint. Here’s an overview of how temperature affects the quality of your beer before it ever reaches your glass.

One of the best parts of beer is the carbonation—those perfect bubbles that fizz on your tongue and give beer part of its distinctive taste. Those bubbles—the natural result of fermentation—are comprised of carbon dioxide gas, which like all gases expands and contracts in relation to temperature. Because the bubbles in beer expand in warm temperatures and contract in cold temperatures, beer whose temperature hasn’t been controlled properly will have bubbles that behave oddly.

If the beer in the keg becomes too warm, the beer will foam, releasing the carbon dioxide in the bubbles which will then affect the taste and the appearance of the beer once it’s served. Because foam is about 25% beer, allowing beer to foam in the keg basically means that ¼ of the beer in the keg is going to waste—a tragedy for both your tastebuds and your pocketbook. If the beer in the keg is too cold, on the other hand, then the carbonation will remain inside the beer, not expanding until it reaches your stomach, giving you a stomachache.

To make sure that the beer is the right temperature so that the bubbles behave properly, you need to make sure that your keg goes through as few changes in temperature as possible.  You might not be able to control the keg’s temperature while it’s being transported between the brewery and your front door, but you can control the refrigeration once it reaches you.

The ideal temperature for draft beer is 38°F, so you should make sure that your cooling unit is properly maintained and capable of remaining at a constant temperature. Since it takes more than twice as long for a keg to cool down from 48°F to 38°F as it does for that same keg to warm up the ten degrees from 38°F to 48°F, it’s in your best interest to make sure as much as possible that the keg never has any reason for its temperature to increase.

In addition to temperature changes inside the keg, you should pay attention to temperature changes in the rest of the system.  The lines that carry the beer from its point of origin in the keg to the tap that dispenses the beer into your glass are prime places for beer to warm up and go bad.

To prevent this from happening, insulate your beer lines. Wrap the lines with aluminum foil followed by a layer of foam, and your beer should stay nice and cold. To make sure, have a thermometer inside of the beer cooler (or taped to the keg) and another one at the tap. If they both read 38°F, you’re doing things right.

If you pay attention to the temperature of your draft beer system, you’ll never again have to worry about your beer going flat or otherwise being inappropriately carbonated. Now that you know to keep your system at a cool and constant 38°F, all your pints should be perfect!

Diana Carlton is a writer for Micro Matic, the world’s leader in beverage dispensing equipment solutions.  For restaurants, bars, and pubs across the nation, Micro Matic has supplied the highest quality equipment and expertise for their beverage dispensing systems.  With decades of experience in draft beer systems, Micro Matic is also an innovator in the wine on tap industry.

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Posted by on January 31, 2013 in Beer, Beer Education

 

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