Mornington Peninsula Brewery releases Nitro Dog’s Bollocks ESB

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Scott Ellis takes us through the ins and outs of Mornington Peninsula’s new nitro ESB in a CAN!!! 

While we are all familiar with beer served using CO2, a more unusual method is nitrogenated beer. Nitrogen gas gives the beer a creamy texture and billowing head that differs vastly from the regular method.

Not too long ago, the only “Nitro” beer in most bottle shops was Guinness.

Using a combination of liquid nitrogen, complex floating “widgets” and a lot of experimentation, brewers of the famous Irish stout had been able to tweak their canning process to replicate the taste and mouthfeel of the beer on tap and say goodbye to the flattish poor cousin we’d been getting.

And the world loved it.

Inevitably other brewers – mainly in the UK at first – followed suit and the ranks of nitrogenated beers slowly started to swell.

And now, with the Nitro Dog’s Bollocks ESB, Mornington Peninsula Brewery has become the first Australian brewer to join their ranks.

It was a hit-and-miss affair – Mornington’s Matt Bebe admits there were “a couple of hundred” casualties of the canning process that were too volatile to be sold – but the result now things are running smoothly, is extraordinary.

At its heart this is already a solid ESB, an English Pale Ale with a biscuity malt backbone over a beautifully bittersweet body and an ABV of 6.2%, but the addition of nitrogen has given it a unique (in Australian cans, at least) edge.

Simply put, when poured in the recommended “vertical and vigourous” manner, it tastes just like a great ESB on tap.

“The ESB on CO2 is a beautiful beer, a malty darker English style beer, but when you have nitrogen it gives a crema along the top, there’s more of a smoother mouthfeel,” Bebe said. “Like Guinness found, this just makes it creamier!”

Bebe decided to try nitrogen when American brewers Vault Brewing (of which he is a part-owner) worked with nitrogen delivery experts Chart Industries to perfect a coffee stout.

Impressed, he called on Chart to come to Australia an install a nitrogen doser on their canning line.

“What happens is after the can is filled but before the can lid falls on and seams there’s a nitrogen doser that drops a dose of nitrogen into the top can,” Bebe said.

“Nitrogen really wants to get out of solution faster than CO2 so you drop the lid on quickly and seam it and … you have nitrogen in the can!”

The Dog’s Bollocks, part of Mornington’s expanding #tinnage line, is the first beer to be given the nitro touch, but Bebe hints it might not be the last.

“We’ve already looked at the Russel Brown (Belgian ale) and our Porter,” he said, “we’re kind of toying with the idea they might be the next one for us.

“We don’t think it should be used for all beers, it’ll go where it goes in Australia, all we’re trying to do is use it on beers we think suit. And this, we think, does.”

By Scott Ellis