What is different about nitro beer?

The Nitro Difference: Why Nitro Beers Stand Out in the Crowd

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Ever fancied a beer that feels like silk on your tongue? Meet nitro beer. Nitro beer has been causing a buzz lately and presents unique characteristics and flavours. But what is different about nitro beer? Well, nitro beer differentiates itself with its creamy texture, less carbonation, and unique pouring method – often cascading into your glass to create a thick, velvety foam head that beer lovers find irresistible.

Discovering Nitro Beer: A Whole New Drinking Experience

Nitro beers are not the fuel that makes Vin Diesel’s cars fast and furious. Instead, nitro beers serve up a distinctly creamy, smooth drinking experience that sets them apart. But what’s behind this extraordinary pint?

Most beers use carbon dioxide during the brewing process. Now, this is where nitro beers flip the script. Instead of solely relying on carbon dioxide, nitro beers introduce nitrogen into the equation, either partially or entirely replacing the carbon dioxide. The reason behind this swap lies in the unique properties of nitrogen.

Nitrogen bubbles are smaller and more numerous than carbon dioxide bubbles. This results in a beer that’s less prickly but more velvety on the tongue. When poured, these tiny nitrogen bubbles race to the top, creating the alluring cascading effect that settles into a rich, creamy head. This frothy top layer is a hallmark of nitro beers, adding a visually enticing element and contributing to the beer’s overall smoothness.

And the intrigue doesn’t stop at the pour. Nitrogen also subtly alters the beer’s taste, softening the hop bitterness and highlighting the malt’s sweetness. The result? A well-rounded, balanced pint that gives the drinker a brand new way to appreciate beer.

The Unique Benefits of Nitrogen Beers

Beyond nitro beer’s distinctive cascading effect and smooth mouthfeel, it holds several unique benefits that casual beer lovers can appreciate.

Firstly, using nitrogen over carbon dioxide significantly reduces the beer’s acidity. This change results in a smoother, less fizzy brew, making nitro beers a fantastic choice for those who find the sharp carbonation of traditional beers off-putting. The velvety texture and mild carbonation of nitro beers offer a novel, pleasant experience, especially for those exploring craft beers for the first time.

The reduced carbonation in nitro beers also affects the beer’s flavour. By suppressing some of the harsher bitter notes often associated with hops, nitrogen allows the more subtle tastes to emerge. This enhancement means that every sip of nitro beer gives you a well-rounded, rich taste.

Nitro beers also tend to stay fresher for longer than their carbonated counterparts due to nitrogen’s insolubility. So, you can savour your beer at a leisurely pace without worrying about it going flat too quickly.

These benefits make nitro beers a brewing innovation and a game-changer in beer-drinking enjoyment. Whether you’re a stout lover, an ale aficionado, or just keen to try something different, the world of nitro beers offers a uniquely satisfying experience worth exploring. But how does this apply to popular beers? Is the beloved Guinness a nitro beer?

Guinness: The Forefather of Nitro Beers

Guinness Factory in Dublin
Guinness Factory in Dublin

From our journey into the world of nitro beers, we turn our focus to the one that started it all: Guinness, the forefather of nitro beers.

If you’ve ever relished a pint of Guinness, you’ve experienced the magic of nitro beer first-hand. The silky texture, the captivating cascading bubbles, and the creamy head define this iconic Irish stout, all made possible by nitrogen. You can pick up your own Guinness Nitrosurge cans and the Nitrosurge Device to put the craft of draught in your hands.

Introduced to the beer world in the late 1950s, Guinness revolutionised the way we enjoy beer. The brewery’s scientists, led by mathematician-turned-brewer Michael Ash, embarked on a mission to create a draught beer that replicated the creaminess and richness of cask-conditioned Guinness. The project led to the advent of nitrogen-infused beer, changing the brewing landscape forever.

Adding nitrogen to beer wasn’t a simple tweak to the brewing process; it required inventing new technologies. Alongside the nitrogenation process, the team at Guinness also developed a unique dispensing system involving a ‘rocket’ widget in the beer can that activates upon opening, creating the much-loved creamy head. Ever wondered why Guinness cans have balls in them? Now you know. This innovative beer tech even earned them a Queen’s Award for Technological Achievement in 1991!

Guinness isn’t just a nitro beer; it’s the trailblazer that paved the way for the vast array of nitro beers we enjoy today. Perhaps the Irish in me is suddenly patriotic.

Popular Nitro Beers to Try

Nitro beers have risen in popularity since Guinness’s ground-breaking invention, and today, there are numerous options available for those looking to explore this distinctive style. Here are some popular nitro beers that should make your ‘must-try’ list:

  1. Left Hand Brewing Nitro Milk Stout: Known for its velvety smooth mouthfeel and chocolatey sweetness, this nitro stout has become a staple in the American craft beer scene.
  2. Samuel Adams Nitro White Ale: A play on a classic Belgian style, this nitro ale is refreshing and creamy, with hints of orange and spice that pop under the nitro smoothness.
  3. Young’s Double Chocolate Stout Nitro: Imagine a rich chocolate cake transformed into a beer – that’s what you get with this indulgent, nitro-charged stout.
  4. Oskar Blues Old Chub Nitro Scotch Ale: This rich, malty beer boasts a silky nitro mouthfeel and flavours of cocoa and coffee, making it a hearty brew perfect for colder months.
  5. Murphy’s Irish Stout: A close competitor to Guinness, Murphy’s offers a softer, sweeter version of a nitro stout, with notes of chocolate and coffee.
  6. Boddingtons Pub Ale: This English nitro ale is light, smooth, and gently hoppy, perfect for those looking for a nitro beer on the lighter end of the spectrum.
  7. Founders Nitro Oatmeal Stout: Another great example of a nitro stout, this beer offers a delicious balance of roasty malts and sweet oats, all enhanced by the nitro creaminess.

Sampling these beers gives a taste of the range and versatility of nitro beers. The subtle smoothness added by nitrogen allows different flavours to shine, making each nitro beer a unique experience. Whether you’re a stout lover or prefer ales, there’s a nitro beer out there for you.


Nitro beers offer a unique twist in the beer world with their creamy texture and visually appealing pour. They’re differentiated from other beers through nitrogenation, replacing or supplementing carbon dioxide with nitrogen. Guinness has a significant role in the history of Nitro beer, being the pioneer in its invention. As the craft beer industry expands, more breweries are experimenting with nitrogenation, contributing to the growing list of Nitro beers available. So why not try the ones listed above?

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