When it comes to enjoying a perfectly poured pint of draft beer, the experience is often influenced by more than just the beer itself. Factors such as temperature, glassware, and even the type of gas used to carbonate and dispense the beer can significantly impact the taste, aroma, and overall enjoyment. One such gas that has gained popularity in the brewing industry is "beer gas."
Beer gas, also known as mixed gas or beverage gas, is a blend of gases used to carbonate and dispense draft beer. It typically consists of a combination of nitrogen (N2) and carbon dioxide (CO2). The specific ratios of nitrogen to carbon dioxide can vary, but a common blend is 75% nitrogen and 25% carbon dioxide.
Why Use Beer Gas?
Enhanced Mouthfeel and Creaminess
The introduction of nitrogen into the gas blend provides a unique mouthfeel and creaminess to the beer that differs from carbon dioxide alone. Nitrogen produces smaller bubbles compared to carbon dioxide, giving the beer a smoother and silkier texture. This effect is particularly desirable for styles like stouts, porters, and cream ales, enhancing their creamy and rich characteristics.
The lower carbon dioxide content in beer gas results in reduced carbonation levels in the beer. This is advantageous for styles that are traditionally served with lower carbonation, ensuring a more appropriate mouthfeel and taste. It's especially beneficial for certain British ales and cask ales.
Beer gas helps preserve the beer's freshness and extends its shelf life by minimizing the contact with oxygen during dispensing. Oxygen exposure can negatively affect the beer's flavor and aroma, leading to a less pleasant drinking experience.
Dispensing with Beer Gas
Dispensing beer with beer gas requires specialized equipment, such as a nitrogen tank, a mixed gas regulator, and appropriate draft faucets designed for nitrogen dispense. The pressure and flow rates need to be adjusted to accommodate the nitrogen blend properly.
The dispensing system should be meticulously cleaned and maintained to ensure that the beer is served at its best quality. Regular checks and adjustments are essential to guarantee that the gas blend is consistent and appropriate for the specific beer being served.
Popular Beer Styles Served with Beer Gas
Stouts and Porters: These styles benefit greatly from the creamy texture and mouthfeel that beer gas provides. Nitrogen creates a luxurious, velvety head that enhances the overall experience of these dark, flavourful beers.
Cream Ales: Cream ales, with their light and slightly sweet character, also benefit from the creamy texture of beer gas, making for a delightful drinking experience.
Nitro IPAs: Some breweries experiment with using beer gas for IPAs to create a unique, creamy IPA experience. However, this is a less common application and is often a matter of personal preference.
Beer gas offers a distinct way to enhance the drinking experience for certain beer styles. By providing a creamy mouthfeel and reduced carbonation, it allows beer enthusiasts to savour their favourite styles in a new light. When properly dispensed and paired with the right beer, beer gas can take your draft beer experience to a whole new level of enjoyment. Cheers to the perfect pour!