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Aggressive hops are great, but it just might be a nitro day

Published: April 2, 2014, 5:34 pm, by Monica Mendoza


We had seen it before — that cascading waterfall of beer.

But this time we had a better understanding of what was going on in our beer glasses.

Our beer was tapped with nitrogen, instead of just carbon dioxide.

And it was pretty.

Some members of the crew over at Old Chicago Pizza and Taproom spent a recent afternoon learning the finer points about beer making and beer tasting with long-time brewer Mike Bristol of Bristol Brewing Co.

A couple of Gazette SudSisters joined the tour and the tasting, which ended with Compass IPA from a nitro tap.


 The pour ends up with a tight, smooth head. The smaller bubbles are less prickly on the tongue and the hops feel less aggressive.  The Compass IPA, which is known for its big hoppy flavor, was a new kind of smooth.

Bristol explains that the Compass on a nitro tap won’t have the same aroma as the one served from a normal keg tapped with carbon dioxide. But it will be creamier and feel less carbonated.

And sometimes it’s just nice to have a smooth IPA.

Of course, serving beer from a nitro tap is nothing new. But it’s still rare to find a bar with a nitro tap, Bristol said. (Old Chicago has one)

“It’s more of a treat when you do see it,” Bristol said.

Bristol has played around with putting his Beehive Honey Wheat or Yellow Kite Summer Pils on nitro taps, but it didn’t really make much of a difference to the look or taste.

 “The best beers on nitro are big beers, hoppy beers and stouts,” Bristol said.

Next time you find yourself saying “let me have that stout on nitro” make sure you enjoy the pour and watch those cascading bubbles on the side fall while the bubbles in the center rise. Make it a nitro day.