The Benefits of Nitrogenation in Beer

When it comes to enjoying a refreshing pint of , the carbonation level plays a significant role in the overall drinking experience. However, there is another gas that has been gaining popularity in the world – nitrogen. Nitrogenation, the process of infusing nitrogen into beer, brings a unique and delightful twist to the traditional carbonated brews we are accustomed to.

Unlike carbon dioxide, nitrogen does not readily dissolve into beer. This characteristic, along with the smaller and more delicate gas bubbles it produces, gives nitrogen-added beers a distinctive creamy and velvety mouthfeel. The result is a smoother and more luxurious drinking experience that beer enthusiasts have come to appreciate.

So, how does nitrogenation work? When a keg of beer is connected to a CO2 tank and pressurized, the beer absorbs the carbon dioxide, creating the desired level of carbonation. However, to achieve nitrogenation, the process takes a slightly different route. The keg is first pressurized with carbon dioxide to ensure proper conditioning, then the CO2 is disconnected, and the keg is given a vigorous shake for about 20 to 30 seconds. This shaking helps to release any excess carbon dioxide and prepare the beer for the nitrogen infusion.

After the shake, the CO2 is reconnected, but the pressure is lowered to around 10 PSI. This allows the nitrogen gas, which is highly resistant to dissolution, to be forced into the beer while maintaining a lower carbonation level. The nitrogen gas forms tiny, creamy bubbles that create a thick and dense head of foam, adding to the visual appeal of the beer.

The nitrogenation process is commonly used for beers served on draft, particularly for those that are intended to be enjoyed at a slightly warmer temperature. Nitro beers, as they are often called, offer a unique drinking experience that showcases the flavors and aromas of the beer in a different way. The creamy texture and smooth mouthfeel provided by the nitrogen bubbles enhance the overall sensory experience, making each sip a delight for the palate.

One of the most iconic examples of nitrogenated beer is the classic , Guinness. The use of nitrogen in Guinness creates its signature cascading effect when poured, with the nitrogen bubbles slowly rising to the top, creating a mesmerizing visual display. The result is a rich and creamy pint of beer that has become synonymous with the Guinness brand.

Nitrogenation has also found its way into craft breweries, where brewers experiment with different beer styles to create their own unique nitro offerings. From IPAs to stouts, nitro beers are gaining popularity for their ability to bring out the best qualities of each style while providing a distinct and enjoyable drinking experience.

Nitrogenation brings a new dimension to the world of beer. The infusion of nitrogen creates a creamy and velvety mouthfeel, enhancing the overall sensory experience. Whether you're savoring a classic Irish stout or exploring the latest nitro craft brew, nitrogenated beers offer a delightful twist on traditional carbonated beers. So, the next time you have the opportunity, raise a glass and experience the magic of nitrogenation. Cheers!

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How Do You Nitrogenate Beer?

To nitrogenate beer, a process known as “nitro-ing,” brewers employ a combination of nitrogen and carbon dioxide (CO2) under elevated pressure. This technique is used to create a unique type of beer known as nitro beer, which is characterized by its smooth and creamy texture.

The process of nitrogenating beer involves the following steps:

1. Preparing the beer: The first step is to brew the beer as usual, following the desired recipe and fermentation process. Once the beer has completed its primary fermentation, it is ready for nitrogenation.

2. Mixing nitrogen and CO2: Brewers prepare a gas blend of nitrogen and carbon dioxide, typically using a mixture of around 75% nitrogen and 25% carbon dioxide. This blend is then introduced into the beer.

3. Pressurizing the beer: The beer is transferred to a pressurized vessel, such as a keg or a specialized nitro beer system. The vessel is then sealed, ensuring that no gas escapes during the process.

4. Infusing the gas: The nitrogen and CO2 gas blend is slowly introduced into the pressurized vessel. The higher pressure and the low solubility of nitrogen in liquid cause the gas to dissolve more slowly compared to carbon dioxide. This results in a beer with lower carbonation levels.

5. Dispensing the beer: When the nitrogenated beer is ready to be served, it is typically dispensed using a specialized tap system. These taps are designed to introduce a fine stream of nitrogen gas as the beer is poured, creating the signature cascading effect and creamy texture associated with nitro beers.

Benefits of nitrogenating beer:
– Creamy texture: Nitrogenation creates tiny bubbles that give the beer a smooth and velvety mouthfeel, enhancing its overall drinking experience.
– Reduced carbonation: Nitro beers have lower levels of carbonation compared to traditional carbonated beers, making them less fizzy and lighter on the palate.
– Extended shelf life: Nitrogen is less soluble than carbon dioxide, which helps to reduce oxidation and prolong the beer's freshness.

Nitrogenating beer involves mixing a blend of nitrogen and carbon dioxide under pressure, which is then introduced into a pressurized vessel containing the beer. The slow dissolution of nitrogen creates a creamy texture and lower carbonation levels, resulting in the distinctive characteristics of nitro beer.


Nitrogenation plays a crucial role in enhancing the overall sensory experience of beer. By utilizing nitrogen gas in the brewing process, brewers are able to create a unique and distinct mouthfeel that sets nitro beers apart from traditional carbonated ones.

The main advantage of nitrogen is its resistance to dissolution in beer, resulting in a lower level of carbonation. This allows for a smoother and creamier texture, as the tiny nitrogen bubbles create a dense and velvety head of foam. This creamy mouthfeel adds a luxurious and indulgent element to the beer, making it a favorite among beer enthusiasts.

Additionally, nitrogenation helps to mellow out the flavors and aromas of the beer, creating a well-balanced and harmonious taste profile. The nitrogen gas acts as a gentle carrier, allowing the subtle flavors and nuances of the beer to shine through without being overpowered by carbonation.

Furthermore, the use of nitrogen in beer also contributes to its visual appeal. The cascading effect, commonly seen when pouring a nitro beer, is a result of the nitrogen bubbles slowly rising to the top, creating a mesmerizing and visually captivating display.

Nitrogenation enhances the overall drinking experience by providing a unique and luxurious mouthfeel, mellowing out flavors, and adding visual appeal. Whether it's a rich and creamy stout or a smooth and silky , nitrogen-added beers offer a distinct and enjoyable sensory experience for beer lovers to savor.

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Thomas Ashford

Thomas Ashford is a highly educated brewer with years of experience in the industry. He has a Bachelor Degree in Chemistry and a Master Degree in Brewing Science. He is also BJCP Certified Beer Judge. Tom has worked hard to become one of the most experienced brewers in the industry. He has experience monitoring brewhouse and cellaring operations, coordinating brewhouse projects, and optimizing brewery operations for maximum efficiency. He is also familiar mixology and an experienced sommelier. Tom is an expert organizer of beer festivals, wine tastings, and brewery tours.