Samuel Adams launches Nitro Beers
New craft beers feature nitrogen instead of carbonation
After experimenting with countless iterations and test batches in the nano-brewery at the Sam Adams Boston Brewery, the brewers at Boston-based The Boston Beer Co. announced the release of the first three brews from the Samuel Adams Nitro Project: Nitro White Ale, Nitro IPA and Nitro Coffee Stout.
The new craft beer line features a combination of nitrogen gas and carbon dioxide (CO2) in place of carbonation. Nitrogen is mostly insoluble in beer, so the resulting bubbles are smaller and create the rich, creamy texture familiar to nitro beers, the company says.
At 5.5 percent alcohol by volume (ABV), Nitro White Ale is a smooth, velvety, medium-bodied brew that contains orange peel, coriander and Grains of Paradise to lend hints of orange and peppery spice, the company says. With a 7.5 percent ABV, Nitro IPA has an initial cap of creaminess, which gives way to hop intensity gathered from Amarillo, Centennial, Galaxy, Polaris, Simcoe and Zeus hops, according to the company. To round out the new releases, Nitro Coffee Stout is a 5.8 percent ABV brew that uses dark roasted malts to create notes of bittersweet chocolate with hints of dark fruit, the company says. Sumatran Mandheling and Indian Monsoon Malabar coffee also are included to add a deep roast dimension to the brew, it says.
Because of the nitrogen gas blend, special equipment is required for draft and can filling. When a nitro beer is poured on tap, it requires a specially designed nitro faucet, the company says. These special faucets have internal plates or "sparklers" with small holes drilled in them, and when the beer is forced through the holes at high pressure, it produces tiny bubbles which create the nitro cascade, it adds. The tight bubbles create a creamy, uniform, thick head on the beer.
To produce the high pressure, nitro beer is forced out by a nitro gas blend, which typically is 75 percent nitrogen and 25 percent CO2. Because the pour is so important, the brewers stress that nitro beers require communication between brewer and bartender, the company says. The brewer perfects the recipe in order to gain the desired flavor profile, and the bartender must have the proper draft line and equipment in order to create the cascade and the best possible drinker experience, it adds.
In cans, a hollow, cylindrical plastic widget, which the brewers refer to as the nitrogenator, is used to replicate this distinctive nitro delivery. Once the can is popped open, the pressure from the nitro is so powerful, the brewers recommend pouring immediately into a glass and pouring straight down the center of the glass for the best possible experience, the company says.
"We started experimenting with nitro beers in the mid-1990s when we brewed a Boston Cream Ale, and over the years, I'd estimate we brewed more than 50 beer styles and worked with 200 recipes to ultimately create these three unique beers,” said The Boston Beer Co. Founder and Chairman Jim Koch in a statement. “We quickly discovered that you can't just put any beer on nitro. We needed to develop recipes where nitrogen was the unexpected fifth ingredient and brought out the desired flavor profile of the brew. For example, with the IPA, the lack of carbonation reduces the perceived bitterness by cutting the acidity (carbonation produces carbonic acid on the tongue, nitrogen doesn't) so without the carbonation we really had to amp up the amount of hops we used. We're excited for drinkers to finally get a chance to try our Nitro beers and experience the cascade, which is like a science experiment in a glass."
Nitro White Ale is available nationwide on draft. Nitro White Ale, Nitro IPA and Nitro Coffee Stout will be available in four-packs of 15-ounce cans beginning in February for a suggested retail price of $8.99-$10.99.