Guinness can be thanked for popularizing nitrogen carbonation — the reason its Irish stout is so creamy. And now the Ireland-based brewery is bringing that smooth feel to America's most popular style of craft beer, the India pale ale, with its Nitro IPA. Fans of hop-heavy beers, however, may be disappointed. The bitterness level of the Guinness Nitro IPA (40 international bittering units) falls at the bottom of the spectrum from the style, and would land in midrange for a pale ale. For reference, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale clocks 38 IBUs.
While nitro carbonation is typically reserved for dark, malty beers, nitro pale ales and IPAs aren't unheard of. "A nitro pale ale is more approachable," says Jeremy Kosmicki, brewmaster at Michigan's Founders Brewing which makes Founders Nitro Pale Ale. "The more balanced malt sweetness comes forward more. It's still a pale ale with great aromas, but also a good stepping stone for people who are shy about hoppy beers since it's not so assertive in bitterness."
While this a departure from Guinness's usual line of stouts, nitro brews have already started to find their place within the American beer scene for that milder approach to rich flavors. Kosmicki says that any beer can be made in a nitro format, it's just commonly used to tone down strong aromas in certain styles. "Nitro can change the flavor profile of a beer," he says. "Nitro rounds out the flavor and makes it smoother. For instance, hoppier beers might have a little less hop bite."
No date has been set for Guinness's Nitro IPA release, and news comes via sleuthing by Beer Street Journal.