Ask Adam: How Does Nitro Beer Work?

Ask Adam: How Does Nitro Beer Work?

Got a question for Adam? Email advice@vinepair.com

HOW DOES NITRO BEER WORK?

Made most famous by Guinness, nitro beer is now available at several breweries around the world, especially craft breweries. In addition to being mesmerizing to watch as the bubbles cascade down the glass post-pour, nitro also imparts a creaminess to the beer that you don’t get with CO2.

The way it works is actually pretty simple. When a keg is put on a draft line, bars use CO2 to push the beer out of the keg, through the line, and into your glass. When pouring a nitro beer, the brewer and bar simply replace CO2 with nitrogen. Nitrogen is more insoluble in liquid, which means it doesn’t dissolve, which creates the creamy mouthfeel we all love in nitro beers. The effect is aided by a special piece of tap equipment known as a restrictor plate. The plate forces the beer through tiny holes before it lands in the glass, creating the famous cascading effect that results in the creamy head. That’s why you’ll have a creamier head from a nitro beer poured from a tap, compared to one you poured yourself from a can that utilized a nitro capsule that mixed with the beer when you popped the tab.

HOW DO FLAVORED VODKAS GET THEIR FLAVOR?

Traditionally, flavored vodkas got that way by infusion. You’d distill and make vodka and then soak orange peels, chiles, even pickles, in the vodka for days or even weeks so that the flavor would seep into the vodka. You’d then strain the solids out and you’d have a flavored vodka. You can still use this method at home to make your own flavored vodkas, but on a mass-production level, this method really isn’t scalable. It’s also not possible for flavors like a doughnut or cotton candy.

If we’re talking mass-produced vodka, the most likely way the flavor was imparted in the liquid was through a flavoring agent that was added after the vodka was distilled. These flavors can be natural or artificial. Distillers are not required to provide ingredient labels or nutritional facts on their bottles. Some people will still label their flavored vodkas as natural or artificially flavored, but just remember that they don’t have to. Then again, there’s no way you could think cookie dough vodka was flavored naturally, right?

WHAT WINE PAIRS BEST WITH A MCRIB?

First, I’d like to thank McDonald’s for putting us through the national nightmare that is the McRib release on what seems to be an annual basis. But if you actually are in the mood to eat a product in which no pigs were harmed in the making, I am going to say you’d be best to pair it with a very juicy Pinot Noir. Probably from California. Think Napa or Sonoma. These wines will pair best with the flavors of the sandwich, though you could also go high-low and pop a DRC or other grand or premier cru Burgundy. Just depends on how you roll.

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