The Nitrogen Beer System: The Basics

by | Apr 19, 2016 | Beverages

Beer is a brew that people have been drinking for centuries. Different cultures have been satisfying their need across the world for around 8,000 years. Using the basic ingredients of yeast, barley and hops, brewers have created their own unique blends. While some individuals will drink almost any form of beer, others are fanatically attached to a particular brew. They talk about the mouth feel, the color and the head, aspects resulting, in part from carbonation. While companies work carefully to obtain the right level of carbon dioxide (CO2), others are trying out the effects on the brew of another gas – nitrogen gas (N2), employing a nitro beer system.

What Are Nitro Beer Systems?

Traditionally, through either natural or mechanical means, brewers have produced their beer using (CO2). It is responsible for many of the qualities beer drinkers associate with their specific product. Beer, after all, is more than taste. It is also about:

* Appearance or color
* Mouth-feel
* Smell or aroma
* Head retention

The overall flavor and many of these attributes lies in the method and level of carbonation. As noted above, traditionalists have long relied on the fermentation of yeast as well as the manipulation of the process to accomplish this. In nitro beer systems, the producers place less emphasis on higher CO2 levels, concentrating instead on nitrogen (N2). This process requires the utilization of specialized equipment to ensure the process is performed successfully.

Nitrogen is not a natural process of fermentation. It is an artificially added ingredient. The brewer must inject or add it at some point before the beer is either kegged or bottled. The process does not remove or eliminate the development of CO2. Instead, the two gases co-exist in the beer. Typically, the product is 70 percent N2and 30 percent CO2.

Why Use Nitrogen?

The preference for nitrogen beer systems is all down to conjuring up specific qualities. A nitro beer system produces a brew with a more complex character. Those who have fallen in love with nitro beers do so based on the following traits:

* Smooth pour
* Lovely head
* Thicker taste or mouth feel
* Creamier overall sensation
* These are all excellent reasons to give nitro beers at least a taste.

Considering a Nitro Beer System

Nitro beer has gained more interest in the past few years. Even small craft and brewpubs are installing the right delivery systems to ensure the nitro-carbonated beer is not negatively affected as it flows from keg through tap to glass. If you plan to brew and/or serve this designer beer, it is important to invest in a high quality nitro beer system.

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