By Malia Paasch
O’Connor Brewing Company celebrates its eighth anniversary on St. Patrick’s Day, so what a great time to talk about dry Irish stouts and the mysteries of nitro beer. What is the difference between nitro beers and just regular beers?
First, nitrogen produces smaller bubbles than CO2 and doesn’t offer the same slightly acidic flavor. The smaller bubbles are what give a nitro beer its silky smooth creamy mouthfeel. Additionally, nitrogen is 100 times less soluble than CO2, which is why the beer cascades up the glass slowly and takes a few minutes to settle.
Guinness was the first brewery to mass market the style, released to celebrate its 200th anniversary. We’re lucky to have our very own locally brewed version of a dry Irish stout, ODIS brewed by O’Connor and it is available as nitro or regular.
I suggest you try it out of nitro cans at the anniversary party March 17.
Nitro Merlin Milk Stout
Firestone Walker Brewing Company
Appearance: Pitch black with a light tan, persistent head.
Aroma: Nutty with hints of nougat and wafers.
Taste: A glass of chocolate milk with no bitterness.
Mouthfeel: Silky, smooth, and creamy.
Drinkability: This is the Goldilocks of milk stouts; not too sweet, not too bitter.
Food pairing: Chocolate chip cookies.
Appearance: Deep dark brown with mahogany highlights. It has a quickly diminishing, light tan head.
Aroma: Cappuccino notes fill the nose with hints of cream and roasty espresso.
Taste: Roast and coffee bitterness dominate the flavor with a bit of dark chocolate.
Mouthfeel: Light on the palate with a bit of carbonation bite.
Drinkability: Drinking Guinness in Ireland is what started my appreciation for drinking at the source. I had never tasted anything like it and will never forget the difference.
Food pairing: Oysters.
O’Connor Brewing Company
Appearance: Opaque black with a dark tan head.
Aroma: Sweet and smells like a nutty chocolate mousse dessert.
Taste: Dark chocolate and almonds are the first flavors to grace the palate, then it subsides to make way for a slightly bitter finish.
Mouthfeel: Full-bodied, much more so than its counterparts on nitro, and delivers a bit of a carbonation bite.
Drinkability: Slightly sweeter and less bitter than Guinness.
Food pairing: Vintage aged cheddar.
Milk Stout Nitro
Left Hand Brewing Company
Appearance: Deep dark brown with the fun cascading bubbles and a light tan head.
Aroma: Vanilla bean ice cream with hints of hazelnut.
Taste: A hint of root beer and brown sugar sweetness that accentuates the milk chocolate notes.
Mouthfeel: Like a creamy bite of marshmallow fluff.
Drinkability: Easy and delicious, if you are looking for something a bit on the sweeter side.
Food pairing: Chocolate peanut butter blossom cookies.