By Tara Nurin
nitro is becoming a buzzword in beer,
and Jersey brewers are exploring it. The
name is nifty, with a whiff of danger, but it
isn’t actually new. Guinness claims to have
invented nitro in 1959. Ever watch a pint
of Guinness stout drawn at the tap? That
thick, creamy head, churning with densely
rising bubbles? That’s nitro at work.
What is nitro? For technical reasons, it’s
mostly a draft phenomenon. Most beers
get their bubbles from carbon dioxide.
Guinness and other nitros get theirs from
a roughly 75/25 mix of nitrogen and carbon
dioxide. Nitrogen bubbles are naturally
smaller than carbon dioxide bubbles, and
the special faucet used to serve nitros has
perforations that expel some of the gas,
thickening the mustache-making head.
At Amazing Grapes Tap & Bottle, a
tavern in Pompton Lakes, owner John
Gray has devoted three of his 22 tap lines
to nitros, including Carton of Milk, a stout
from Carton Brewing in Atlantic Highlands. “I figured three nitro lines would
make us interesting,” says Gray.
The new Devil’s Creek Brewery in
Collingswood has two nitro lines in its
tasting room. “We’ve done some fun
stuff,” says co-owner Kathy Abate, citing
a nitro lemonade shandy. “It made it taste
fluffy, like a true dessert. We called it
Lemon Meringue.” Devil’s Creek’s latest
nitro is a Caramel Apple Brown Ale.
When Chris Burke opened Eight &
Sand, a brewery in Woodbury, in September, he made its Dry Irish Stout two ways:
one normally, the other nitro. He served
them side-by-side in the taproom. In
online ratings, the nitro won handily.
One reason could be that stout’s “coffee
and malt flavors come through nicely with
nitro,” says Ricky Soni, manager of Mohawk
House in Sparta, a restaurant deep into
craft beer. Some ales and fruit beers work
well as nitros. In 2015, Guinness introduced
a nitro IPA. “Mostly,” Soni says, “people are
interested in anything different.” P H O
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