If you have never tried a beer “on nitro” then you are missing out. It may sound fancy but “nitro” simply refers to the type of gas used in the carbonation process of beer brewing. As opposed to a traditional beer that is largely made up of carbon dioxide, a beer on “nitro” uses predominantly nitrogen gas in order to carbonate the beer. This yields a smoother, less bubbly, creamier beer that I have grown to love. If you see a beer tap with a long black spout thing attached to it, you have yourself a beer that is pumped full of nitrogen instead of carbon dioxide…so be on the lookout.
Left Hand Brewing Company out of Colorado, however, has mastered the science of bottling a nitrogen beer (you can find some canned beers that have a nitrogen ball inside). I first tried their Nitro Milk Stout a couple years ago and absolutely loved it…it was unlike any other bottle of beer I had tried before. So recently I figured I should give another of their nitro offerings a chance to see how the bottling technique translated to an ale rather than a stout. So today I have for you a review for their Sawtooth Ale Nitro.
-Appearance: first off, the bottle instructs you to pour the beer “hard” by turning it completely upside down into a glass. No worrying about pouring on the side of a glass to minimize foam. Part of the uniqueness of a nitro beer is the cascading effect you get of the beer falling and the foam rising to the top of the glass. The beer is quite dark and somewhat opaque, maybe a dark amber/brown. It is adorned with a finger of cream/white-colored head that slowly dissolves into a thin film on top of the liquid. If you pour the beer correctly then you are in for a show.
-Smell: the aroma is mostly of toasted malts and bread. Faint hints of chocolate and caramel. No real hop smell. Overall, this is a pretty tame beer in terms of aroma.
-Taste: similar to the smell. Malt forward and some faint sweetness of chocolate and caramel. There is some breadiness and yeast to the flavor profile as well. Towards the end there is some grassy and earthy hop bitterness but nothing that is really all that recognizable. In no way could anyone describe this beer as hop forward or bitter…the toasted malts combined with some slight sweetness shine through as the stars.
-Overall: a good beer and a nice way to show the nitro style. I am curious to try the regular sawtooth ale to compare it to the nitro offering to see what similarities and differences there are. My preference will always be to get a nitro beer on tap at a bar, but having the ability to pick this beer up or their milk stout at a local liquor store and have the nitro experience at home is always a good thing.