How is Nitrogen Used in Breweries?

Compressed air plays a vital role in breweries across the country. From high-volume facilities to the smallest craft producers, a reliable compressor is as important as the right combination of malt, water and hops in an pale ale. 

Extreme care and thought goes into every aspect of the brewing process, each making a quantifiable mark on the final product. From concept to creation, no detail is too small to ignore and the compressed air system is no exception, but how exactly is nitrogen utilized alongside the compressed air to improve your favorite lager?

Tank Purging

Nitrogen is used to purge tanks or kegs between use so that the mash or beer in the tanks does not oxidize and become sour or ruin the next batch. Nitrogen is also used to displace or remove the majority of oxygen from the tanks because oxygen will cause any contents to spoil faster. It can be used to push the beer or contents from one tank to another and also to pressurize the tank as an alternative to using CO2.

Nitro-Brews

Alongside using nitrogen for secondary processes in brewing, the gas is actually used in the brewing process itself. Typically, CO2 is used to give your beer its' carbonation and fizzy texture, however a lot of breweries have started using what is refered to as the 70/30 ratio of 70% nitrogen to 30% CO2. Using nitrogen in the beer gives it a smoother taste and feel and also provides for a longer-lasting foam head on the beer. The bubbles inside of a freshly poured beer also typically appear to rise because of the CO2. However, a beer brewed with mostly nitrogen will have bubbles that appear to be falling instead of rising.

Benefits of Using On-Site Nitrogen in a Brewery

Aside from the obvious shelf-life and taste benefits nitrogen provides to beer, having an on-site generation system provides large ROI and instant access benefits for breweries.

  • Cost: Supplying nitrogen on-site as opposted to having nitrogen canisters delivered or having CO2 delivered can save anywhere between 40-75% on gas costs. Delivery fees vary for both CO2 and nitrogen, and depending on how far a brewery is from a gas facility, the fee can be higher than other competitor breweries in town. This increases expenses and the base cost of the beer. 
  • Instant Access: Depending on an outsourced company to supply nitrogen or CO2 can become a headache if the supply is limited or a delay in delivery occurs. Large volume breweries can not afford to be without nitrogen for days or even hours. Having an on-site solution provides instant access to nitrogen whenever it is needed, and also allows for the monitoring and changing of purities depending on the process. 

Pneumatech offers a full line of on-site nitrogen generators perfect for all gas processes involved in brewing. You can view our product lines HERE. If you own a brewery and are in need of a better nitrogen solution, please Contact Us.