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It's all about hard pours for San Diego nitro beers

Do not pour gentle into that good pint...

Screencap from Modern Times' video "tutorial on how to pour it like a champion"
Screencap from Modern Times' video "tutorial on how to pour it like a champion"

San Diego beer hit another packaging milestone in January, when a couple of local breweries released nitrogenized beer in bottles and cans for the first time. Modern Times kicked it off with a nitro version of its Black House coffee stout flavored with cocoa and coconut. A week later, Ballast Point delivered Red Velvet, a unique golden oatmeal stout flavored with chocolate and colored with beet juice to invoke the experience of its namesake cake.

Nitro beers are carbonated with nitrogen gas more than straight carbon dioxide. They benefit from tiny bubbles, which give their effervescence a creamier mouthfeel than the fizz of carbonation. In bars, such beers typically pour from a dedicated tap affixed with a restrictor plate that agitates the beer, releasing the bubbles to produce the creamy texture and foamy head.

Guinness famously inserted a plastic widget into nitro bottles and cans in the late '80s, to effectively package its stout with nitro and achieve the agitation of the bubbles in the beer when opened. Like Colorado's Left Hand Brewing, which became the first American craft brewery to package nitro beer in 2014, Modern Times and Ballast Point have packaged their nitrogenized beer without a widget.

But they do offer instructions. The Modern Times can advises, "For best results pour hard." Red Velvet's shrinkwrapped bottles suggest you "Pour with purpose," placing the bottle upside-down over your glass. Each of the breweries followed this up with video posts to social media, showing how a hard pour produces a foamy head and cascading effect, wherein bubbles fall down the sides of the glass, rather than up like regular carbonation.

Of course, if you poured a standard carbonated beer, say a pilsner or IPA this way, you would get bubbles and foam pouring out of your glass. So when you follow the pour hard instructions, there's an almost exhilarating moment when the foam threatens to overflow — but it never does.

Both nitro beers were characterized as a limited run by their respective breweries, so San Diego nitro beers on local shelves may not last long. However, Nitro Black House proved popular enough that Modern Times released a second run in February, and Belching Beaver has plans to release a nitro version of its Beavers Milk Stout.

That one's packaging instructs, "When pouring nitro, pour straight up!"

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Screencap from Modern Times' video "tutorial on how to pour it like a champion"
Screencap from Modern Times' video "tutorial on how to pour it like a champion"

San Diego beer hit another packaging milestone in January, when a couple of local breweries released nitrogenized beer in bottles and cans for the first time. Modern Times kicked it off with a nitro version of its Black House coffee stout flavored with cocoa and coconut. A week later, Ballast Point delivered Red Velvet, a unique golden oatmeal stout flavored with chocolate and colored with beet juice to invoke the experience of its namesake cake.

Nitro beers are carbonated with nitrogen gas more than straight carbon dioxide. They benefit from tiny bubbles, which give their effervescence a creamier mouthfeel than the fizz of carbonation. In bars, such beers typically pour from a dedicated tap affixed with a restrictor plate that agitates the beer, releasing the bubbles to produce the creamy texture and foamy head.

Guinness famously inserted a plastic widget into nitro bottles and cans in the late '80s, to effectively package its stout with nitro and achieve the agitation of the bubbles in the beer when opened. Like Colorado's Left Hand Brewing, which became the first American craft brewery to package nitro beer in 2014, Modern Times and Ballast Point have packaged their nitrogenized beer without a widget.

But they do offer instructions. The Modern Times can advises, "For best results pour hard." Red Velvet's shrinkwrapped bottles suggest you "Pour with purpose," placing the bottle upside-down over your glass. Each of the breweries followed this up with video posts to social media, showing how a hard pour produces a foamy head and cascading effect, wherein bubbles fall down the sides of the glass, rather than up like regular carbonation.

Of course, if you poured a standard carbonated beer, say a pilsner or IPA this way, you would get bubbles and foam pouring out of your glass. So when you follow the pour hard instructions, there's an almost exhilarating moment when the foam threatens to overflow — but it never does.

Both nitro beers were characterized as a limited run by their respective breweries, so San Diego nitro beers on local shelves may not last long. However, Nitro Black House proved popular enough that Modern Times released a second run in February, and Belching Beaver has plans to release a nitro version of its Beavers Milk Stout.

That one's packaging instructs, "When pouring nitro, pour straight up!"

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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