A Weird Thing Happened Today…

A customer asked me a question today, and I didn’t know the answer.

Now, before you start shitting your pants, let me reassure you: while this does not happen a lot, it does happen from time to time. It is no cause for panic. The important thing is to remain calm.

The question that had me stumped was this: “Why do you do need to do a two-part pour with nitrogen beers?”

For anyone unfamiliar with what a ‘nitrogen beer’ is referring to, allow me to provide a succinct definition:

The use of nitrogen, which was pioneered by Guinness, creates a firm head with small bubbles while reducing the excessively acidic taste often produced by using carbon dioxide alone.

Did Guinness really pioneer the use of nitrogen? Who knows. Wikipedia is not exactly a fountain of reliable knowledge. But you get the idea.

And if you feel like getting more technical:

There are many reasons for using nitrogen in place of some of the carbon dioxide in stout. The lower concentration of carbon dioxide lowers the beer’s acidity. And bubbles of nitrogen tend to be smaller and more numerous than those of carbon dioxide, giving stout its characteristic creamy texture. This doesn’t present any problems for draught stout served in a pub, which is forced through a perforated metal plate that agitates the beer to produce the requisite bubbles.

Now, there is no law saying that one must use a two-part pour. In fact, there are a lot of people who think that a two-part pour is merely a marketing stunt devised by Guinness, or is a myth, or that that it doesn’t make one bit of difference however the beer is poured.

I, however, disagree. Take that.


Here’s what I mean when I say ‘two part pour,’ again using Guinness as an example:

Some beers require more time for the perfect pour. Guinness is the prime example. Guinness experts suggest using the two-part pour or double-pour method for this thick and nitrogenous stout. Pouring the beer about 2/3 of the way up the glass and then waiting a good 30 seconds or more helps the nitrogen bubbles in the beer settle. Guinness enthusiasts swear that the double pour brings out the perfect amount of head and the best tasting Guinness. This is how they do it in Dublin; it’s best to follow suit.

At the place where I tend bar, we’re currently carrying Central Water’s Mudpuppy Porter on our nitro line, and I conducted a blind taste test of the beer that had been poured in two parts versus the one that was poured in one. The results were unanimous: every participant (including myself) picked the beer that had been poured in two parts over the one that had been poured in one. The same was true when I conducted a similar experiment with the Titletown’s Bridge Out Stout, which was on the nitro line prior to Mudpuppy.

Now, the difference in the beer’s flavor following a two-part pour was not earth-shatteringly different, but the beer that had been poured in two parts was noticeably creamier-tasting and less bitter.

As to the science behind this phenomenon, I have no fucking clue. Science was never my best subject in school. But if someone out there can answer the question, I’m all ears. Or eyes, reading your answer on a computer screen. Or whatever.

All I’m really saying is, ask for a two-part pour. Taste for yourself. If you think I’m crazy, well, I don’t really care.

Boom goes the dynamite.