Nick Carr on March 28, 2016 2 Comments Quick Characteristics Brewery Boston Beer Company Location Boston, MA Style American Stout (Nitro) ABV 5.8% IBU 32 Hops East Kent Goldings (UK) Malts Samuel Adams Two-Row Pale Malt Blend, Caramel 60, Special B, Roasted Unmalted Barley Special Ingredients Coffee Shelf Life 6 Months Suggested Glass Mug or Tulip Serving Temp 40 – 58°F Availability Yearround Food Pairings Blackened pork chops, Barbeque Brisket, Well-Aged Asiago, Coffee Cake Nitro beer is having a moment in the spotlight, whether it remains just a passing fancy or will go on to be something more… only time will tell. At the moment though it’s an easy thing to find at least a couple different Nitro cans on the beer shelves and even more likely to find a local pub pouring nitro beer. I haven’t paid a whole lot of attention to this upswing in popularity. Sure I drink one every now and again, but don’t really go searching them out and I rarely drink the same beer twice, which makes even their burgeoning selection a little scant. Now Samuel Adams has thrown their hat in the nitro ring. Apparently the nitro project, which was released in January, was 2 years in the making. During that time they degassed and nitrogenated over 100 of their recipes to see which were most improved by the addition of nitrogen. Shop for Samuel Adams Glassware on Amazon For those unfamiliar with nitro beer, it is simply a beer that uses nitrogen as part of the carbonation process. Regular carbonation uses 100% CO2, while nitrogenated beer uses a 70% to 75% mix of nitrogen to a 30% to 25% mix of CO2. Nitrogen does not dissolve well in liquid. The nitrogen forms bubbles much smaller than those created by CO2 and these small bubbles are what gives nitrogenated beer its amazingly creamy head and full feeling body. If you want a keg of nitro at home, you’ll need a different setup. Pubs use a nitrogen tap and a special fitting called a restrictor plate to force the beer through a set of tiny holes as it is poured. This causes the mesmerizing flowing pattern of down streaming bubbles along the sides of the glass as the liquid is surrendered up and the head forms. The nitrogen widgets in cans and bottles create this same affect. The widget has a small hole in it. When you open the beer the drop in pressure forces the nitrogen out through the hole and into your beer. Nitrogenated beer tends to amplify malt and body while subduing hop aroma and flavors, so it is more often used on beers such as stouts and porters and less on IPAs and pales. This makes me think I’ve chosen the right one in Samuel Adams nitro project. The other two beers in the project are an IPA and a white ale. I’ll have to give these a try to at some point, but for now… THE TASTING REVIEW Below are the tasting notes I took while drinking Nitro Coffee Stout. If you tasted this beer, please share your thoughts with me in the comments below. Pour and Aroma: Like pouring a milkshake and it even looks a lot like one as the nitrogen climbs and forms the head. After things settle down it looks a lot like dark cold brewed coffee with flashes of rosy amber along the edges when held to light. It is opaque. Head is tinged light mocha and looks like pancake batter, or for those who have brewed, the creamy yeast at the bottom of your fermentation bucket. A mix of coffee aromas dominates the nose. It smells like cold coffee with a slight twinge of malty sweetness and whispers of chocolate. Mouthfeel and Taste: Mouthfeel is very smooth and velvety. Soft carbonation pushes a medium to full body across the palate, like smooth silk sheets settling. At the front it shows its malt-sweet backbone before transitioning, mid-palate into lush bright cold coffee flavors touched with hints of vanilla and chocolate. It settles with slight coffee-bitterness into the end before dropping away in a somewhat chocolaty finish. Slight coffee bitterness in the aftertaste. FINISHING THOUGHTS I’m not sure I’ve had another coffee beer that has reminded me so much of cold brewed coffee. Samuel Adams used Monsoon Malabar and Sumatran Mandheling coffee in this and the quality of the coffee shows big time. It is actually so much like coffee that I’d have to be in a coffee mood, not just a stout mood, to choose it. But, oh, if I’m in that coffee mood what a balm this one would be! There’s no denying the body and the smooth mouthfeel of using nitrogen to carbonate. If you’ve never had a nitro you have to at least give it a try. It’s a treat visually — watching the cascade of descending bubbles after the pour as the bubbles in the middle rise to build the head — and a texture treat for the mouth so smooth and velvety. As I said earlier this is the first of the three Nitro Project beers I’m trying. This one’s got me curious now. I may have to go sample the other two, you know, for research. Cheers!