Nitrogen beers are a thing, I guess. Every tap room that I have visited in the past couple of months has a rotating nitro tap. Sometimes it works, sometimes it does not. I am not really sold on the concept of nitrogen making all beers better.
Increasingly, nitrogen beers are making an appearance on store shelves. Left Hand Brewing out of Longmont, Colorado is a pioneer in these packaged nitro beers and Milk Stout Nitro can be found all over the nation. Guinness, of dry stout fame and part of the alcohol empire Diageo, is looking to capture some of that nitro zeitgeist with Nitro IPA:
Whereas a stout or porter seems to really benefit from nitro, the smaller bubbles and inherent creaminess seem to complement those styles quite nicely, an IPA is an odd choice for the nitro treatment. IPAs, at least in the American sense, tend to beers full of bold and brassy flavors and aromas. Large bubbles of CO2 bring these flavors and aromas out in big bursts. Plus, CO2 is acidic when dissolved into water so that also complements the use of alpha and beta acids from hops.
Guinness Nitro IPA does not bring the boldness of flavor or aroma and the creaminess from the nitro is just sort of there. When I was in college there was an Irish ale—the name totally escapes me right now—that a friend used to drink. It was the strangest beer because it left absolutely no aftertaste in your mouth. It was just gone. Guinness Nitro IPA is kind of like that beer I cannot remember.
The brewer claims to use a laundry list of hops—Admiral, Celia, Topaz, Challenger, and Cascade—but I would be pressed to identify any of those profiles in this beer. I think that this is due to the nitro muting the flavor and aroma of the hops.
What you are left with is a beer that has a thin malt body, little hop profile of note, and a creaminess that seems more at place in a stout or porter:
See what others are saying about Guinness Nitro IPA @ Beeradvocate.