Nitro Widget Tech Tips from Independence Brewing

Up and Down: Brazil is a 5.6% ABV Coffee Blonde Ale that is currently in the market for Austin, Texas’ Independence Brewing. Brewed with 180 pounds of whole bean coffee per batch, Up and Down comes packaged in a special widget can — the same technology that is used in canned nitro coffee. The brewery touts that it is one of only a few breweries in the country to use these patented cans, and among the very first to experiment with canning a nitrogenated coffee beer.

The logistics of canning the widget cans compared to a normal canning day is a little different, though not drastically, pointed out Operations Manager David Hinkle.

“One thing we’ve noticed is that yield per batch is lower because of the large amount of coffee we’re putting in the beer — 180 pounds per 60-barrel batch,” he explained. “Then the widget itself takes up space in the can, so a 12 ounce can has more like 11 ounces of beer in it.

“We also nitrogenate in the tank as opposed to carbing, so the uncarbonated beer has no foam, which increases fill times and slows the process down, especially since the beer needs to be kept still throughout the process.”

There are also safety issues with the dosing because it has to be just right so that you don’t have exploding beers. That means a word of caution for breweries looking into canning nitro beer.

“Honestly we’d say don’t try this unless you have the time and money to get it right and you have a beer style that demands a nitro can,” Hinkle said. “We felt that the beer we were trying to make could only work if it was full nitro, otherwise the coffee flavor would degrade pretty quickly and wouldn’t have dark roasted malts to mask it.

“It was all worth it in the end though, the beer is amazing and the coffee flavor is incredibly fresh and stable. We couldn’t be happier.”

Photo courtesy Julia Keim

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