Nitro Beer: It’s What’s on Tap

Tap and Barrel Nitro Beer

If there were a beauty pageant for beers, Guinness Stout would surely have a shot at the crown. Whether or not you’re a fan, the slow separation of rich, black stout and the creamy tan head until they strike a perfect balance is something to behold. That theatrical pour, however, has more to do with the draft system than the beer itself. The beauty comes from the nitro tap line, and it’s not just for Irish stouts anymore.

When Vincent Minutella bought what is now the Black Sheep Ale House in Mineola, it was a “little Irish pub” with five tap lines. He added 20 more, plus a cask engine, but kept the existing nitro tap in place. He uses the taps to draw beer that already contain nitrogen gas, which was added by the brewer to enhance the suds. These are usually dark stouts or porters, though he has been known to pull nitro IPA. In addition,un-nitrogenated beer passes through the nitrogen nozzle for a quicker, smoother pour and creamy mouthfeel. “The brewer made the beer, who am I to change it?” says Minutella, which is why he never adds nitrogen to a beer brewed without it. He instead pushes the beer along with a gas mix of nitrogen and carbon dioxide.

The Black Sheep Ale House is also one of the few places on Long Island with authentic cask beer. Cask ales are served at a higher temperature and with less carbonation than a typical beer; it takes some getting used to. Unlike nitro beers, cask ales are not usually limited by style and everything from a pale ale to an imperial stout can be in cask. “Once people find they enjoy cask beers, they will try any style,” says Minutella. “I like that beer is a living thing. The beer that I have in this moment is going to be different from how it is at the end of the night.”

Nitro pours are also always on the menu at Brewology, at the original in Speonk and the new spot in Port Jefferson. “A lot of customers notice the difference,” says owner Roger Bencosme. “The creaminess is just unparalleled.” They currently pour Empire Brewing Company Cream Ale on nitro at both locations. “I’ve tried it on a regular tap and it’s just not the same,” he adds. But his favorite is Blue Point’s Armchair Nitro Stout.

Nitro beer is also available at Blue Point Brewery in Patchogue, Tap and Barrel in Hauppauge (pictured) and several other bars and restaurants across Long Island.

This article originally appeared on Edible Long Island.

The Secret's Out: Rocky Point Artisan Brewers & Secret Engine Brewing Release Collaboration Beer Sticke Handwerker

20140808-105342-39222857.jpg

Mike Voigt of Rocky Point of Artisan Brewers, left, and Mike Mare of Secret Engine.

“Sometimes the beer just tells you when it is ready,” says Mike Voigt of Rocky Point Artisan Brewers about their recent collaborative brew with Secret Engine Brewing of Brooklyn. Mike Mare, brewer and co-owner of Secret Engine, is currently trying to find a permanent home for the brewery while still getting his beer out there. Though the original plan was to wait until later this month, Sticke Handwerker, the Long Island debut from Secret Engine, will be released this Friday at Tap and Barrel, The Black Sheep Ale House and a to-be-determined location in Brooklyn.

Mare has been brewing for more than 10 years and decided to make the leap to commercial brewing about three years ago. However, as the guys at RPAB know all too well, finding a suitable home for your brewery and an agreeable landlord is not the easiest task. While the search for a headquarters for Secret Engine in Brooklyn continued, Mare decided to reach out to established breweries for some advice and a possible collaboration. As a former touring musician, what Mare missed most about being on the road was the ability to connect with people from all areas and backgrounds, so he sent out e-mails to about 600 breweries. One of the few responses he received was from Mike Voigt of RPAB.

The two met at Voigt’s house to enjoy a few beers, play guitar and get to know each other. That same night they started throwing around ideas for a collaboration and over the next month Sticke Handwerker was born. “We have majorly different brewing styles,” says Voigt. Though they both feel Sticke Handwerker truly reflects the two breweries. RPAB tends to brew to style with small tweaks, while Secret Engine is more outside the box. Together they created something unique. So unique, in fact, when we asked what type of beer it is we were told, “You have to delve around to find out what the secret meaning of the secret beer is.” Thus leaving everything to the palate of the taster.

We were able to try this mysterious beer right out of the fermenter at RPAB and can attest it is one of a kind. Sticke Handwerker hasa velvety mouthfeel and gobstopper-like array of flavors and aromas. The first release this weekend will be in firkins, with kegs to follow. This cask-conditioned version of the brew will be lightly carbonated and served close to cellar temperature allowing the flavor to shine through. Voigt and Mare are already brainstorming their next brew, which is rumored to include mint, so this won’t be the last Long Island sees of the Secret Engine Brewing/Rocky Point Artisan Brewery partnership.

20140808-111150-40310151.jpg

First Appeared On Edible Long Island