Your typical grocery store beer aisle is about to get a little more trendy: Samuel Adams has just launched a new line of canned beers infused with nitrogen instead of the usual CO2 carbonation. The new line is dubbed the Samuel Adams Nitro Project and includes three brews: Nitro White Ale, Nitro IPA, and Nitro Coffee Stout.
Nitrogen is a transparent, odorless gas that, when used to carbonate beverages in place of CO2, creates extra-tiny bubbles that gives the liquid a creamy, rich mouthfeel. According to Oregon craft brewer Deschutes, "Nitro beers also tend to have less perceived bitterness because CO2 is acidic which adds to bitterness perception." To compensate for this, Sam Adams has stepped up the amount of hops in its Nitro Project IPA.
While it'd be tough to label Sam Adams as "craft" — in 2013 it brought in more than $700 million in revenue — the brewer is certainly more innovative than its much larger industry siblings like, say, Budweiser. Its biannual "Utopias" releases are long-aged, high-dollar small-batch brews (one of which previously held the Guinness World Record for the highest ABV beer), and it also produces a "Rebel" line with relative oddities like a double IPA that must be consumed within 35 days of production.
Nitrogen-infused beer on tap is a common offering at craft breweries and bars that serve craft beer, but canning nitrogen-infused beer is a more complicated undertaking: Each can of Sam Adams' is equipped with a nitrogen-filled "widget" that releases the gas into the beer once the top is popped.
Sam Adams isn't the first big beer maker to go nitro, however: Last year Guinness launched a canned nitro-infused IPA. Another bubbly beverage that's all the rage these days? Nitrogen-infused cold-brew coffee, served on draft at many a third-wave coffee shop.