Why Does Guinness Have A Ball In It

Guinness, the beloved , is known for its unique and creamy texture. But have you ever wondered why there is a tiny plastic ball inside your can of Guinness? This little secret is called a widget, and it plays a crucial role in achieving that iconic velvety head.

When Guinness is canned, it undergoes a process called nitrogenation. Pressurized nitrogen is added to the beer, which then trickles into a small hole in the widget. This nitrogenated beer is kept separate from the rest of the brew until the can is opened.

Now, here's where the magic happens. When you crack open your can of Guinness, the pressure is released, and the widget's nitrogenated beer squirts into the rest of the beer. This sudden infusion of nitrogen creates a cascade of tiny bubbles, giving Guinness its smooth and creamy texture.

But why nitrogen? While many other beers are carbonated using carbon dioxide, Guinness takes a different approach. The brew masters at Guinness have chosen nitrogen to create a unique drinking experience. Nitrogen bubbles are smaller than carbon dioxide bubbles, resulting in a smoother and subtler fizz. This gives Guinness its distinctive thick and creamy mouthfeel.

Not only does nitrogen contribute to the velvety texture, but it also plays a role in the formation of Guinness' signature head. When the beer is poured, the nitrogen bubbles rise to the top, creating a dense and creamy foam that lingers until the last sip.

So, what's the deal with shaking the can? Well, when it comes to Guinness Draught in a Can, shaking is a big no-no. Unlike some other beers that may benefit from a gentle swirl to release the carbonation, shaking a can of Guinness can disrupt the delicate nitrogen bubbles and lead to a less-than-optimal drinking experience. It's best to chill your can of Guinness the day before and enjoy it without any vigorous shaking.

Next time you crack open a can of Guinness, take a moment to appreciate the widget inside. This small plastic ball is responsible for aerating the beer with nitrogen gas, creating that creamy head and smooth texture that Guinness is famous for. Sit back, savor each sip, and enjoy the unique experience of a perfectly poured pint, right from the comfort of your own home.

How Does The Ball In Guinness Work?

The ball inside Guinness beer cans, commonly known as the Guinness widget, plays a crucial role in enhancing the drinking experience. To understand how it works, let's break it down step by step:

1. Canning Process: During the canning process, Guinness beer is pressurized with a mixture of carbon dioxide and nitrogen. This combination creates a unique creamy texture and smooth taste that Guinness is famous for.

2. Nitrogen Release: The widget, which is a small plastic ball, is placed inside the can before sealing. It contains a small hole that allows the pressurized nitrogen to enter.

3. Activation: When the can is opened, the pressure inside rapidly decreases, causing the nitrogen to be released through the small hole in the widget.

4. Nitrogenation: As the nitrogen is released, it forms tiny bubbles in the beer. These bubbles rise to the top, rapidly mixing with the rest of the beer, and creating a velvety and smooth texture.

5. Texture Enhancement: The nitrogen bubbles in the beer help to create a rich and creamy head when poured. The small bubbles also enhance the mouthfeel, giving the beer a smoother and less carbonated sensation compared to other carbonated beers.

The Guinness widget serves the purpose of infusing nitrogen into the beer, which enhances the texture, taste, and overall drinking experience. It ensures that every sip of Guinness from the can provides the same creamy goodness that is typically experienced from a pint poured at the pub.

why does guinness have a ball in it

Does All Guinness Have A Ball In It?

All Guinness cans have a widget in them. The widget is a small plastic ball that is specifically designed to enhance the drinking experience by recreating the creamy head that is typically associated with a freshly poured Guinness from a tap.

The purpose of the widget is to release nitrogen gas into the beer when the can is opened. This gas creates tiny bubbles that rise to the surface, forming a thick and creamy head on top of the beer. This head not only adds to the visual appeal of the beer but also contributes to the smooth and velvety texture that Guinness is known for.

The widget works by being pre-filled with nitrogen gas under high pressure. When the can is opened, the pressure inside the can drops, causing the widget to release the gas. The nitrogen gas then disperses throughout the beer, creating the desired effect.

It's important to note that the widget is only found in canned Guinness. In draft or bottled versions of Guinness, a different method is used to achieve the same creamy head. In draft Guinness, a mix of nitrogen and carbon dioxide is used, while in bottled Guinness, a nitrogen capsule is often included to achieve a similar effect.

To summarize, the presence of a widget in Guinness cans ensures that the beer retains its characteristic creamy head, making it taste as though it was freshly poured from a tap.


Guinness is a unique beer that stands out from the rest due to its innovative widget technology and the use of nitrogen instead of carbon dioxide. The tiny plastic ball inside each can, known as the widget, plays a crucial role in achieving the iconic creamy head that Guinness is known for. When the can is opened, the nitrogenated beer is released, creating a velvety texture and a smooth, subtle fizz that sets Guinness apart from other beers. It is important to note that shaking the can is not recommended, as it could disrupt the nitrogen bubbles and affect the overall taste and texture of the beer. By using nitrogen and smaller bubbles, Guinness has mastered the art of creating a thick and creamy beer with a signature velvet head. So, the next time you enjoy a can of Guinness, remember the secret inside that ensures a delightful drinking experience.

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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.