What is nitro beer? Traditionally, carbonation in beer is achieved by adding carbon dioxide to the beer. This is what causes the bubbles and foam to form on beer when it’s poured. Nitro beer uses nitrogen to achieve carbonation instead of CO2. Using Nitrogen for carbonation gives the beer a different feel when it’s consumed. Nitro beers have a much smoother texture and feel in the mouth compared to CO2 carbonated beer. Nitrogen also produces a thicker, more stable foam, or “head” on the beer when it’s poured. Bubbles in nitro beer are primarily nitrogen – about 70% – but still contain carbon dioxide (about 30%). Guinness is widely credited with making nitro beer more popular.
Are nitro beers better than CO2 carbonated beer? That’s a question left to the drinker. Nitro beers certainly have a different texture and flavor profile than CO2 beers. They’re often thicker and smoother – some say they have a milkshake consistency. It all depends on what the beer drinker prefers! However, nitro beers – outside of the most popular brands of Guinness and Sam Adams – are much harder to find than a generic CO2 beer.