Granddad’s Cream Ale is carbonated with nitrogen so it cascades as it pours. This golden pub style ale has an extremely smooth mouthfeel, and a crisp hop flavor. ABV 5.8%”
There’s something magical about nitrogenated beer. To the uninitiated, the cascading bubbles and thick, froth-like head may not even seem beer-like. It’s more evocative of a decadent dessert or blended coffee drink than a crisp beer.
Not long ago, beer served with nitrogen gas was either considered exotic or a novelty. As the craft beer market surged, serving nitrogenated beer was something of a distinction, in that it took specialized equipment as well as a certain amount of extra care and consideration. Today, you average sports bar may have upwards of three dozen draught lines and at least one dedicated solely to pouring nitro beer.
But what is nitro beer?
Carbonation in beer occurs naturally as a byproduct of fermentation—yeast create CO2 as they consume sugars and excrete alcohol. For many centuries, this natural carbonation was the only source of bubbles in beer. Today, the vast majority of beer is force carbonated, meaning a specific amount of carbonation is forced into the liquid under pressure, with the exception of bottle or cask-conditioned ales. Nitrogen, however, does not just appear in beer—someone has to put it there.