Nitrogen Tanks – Homebrewing Needs

by Karl | Updated: July 3, 2019

Some tools and additives add better flavor after brewing. One of these elements is the nitrogen touch in European beer. Nitrogen adds several improvements to the beer, both in taste and texture. 

Another element that adds new features is CO2. However, nitrogen is miles away. Its use spreads from Europe to America for different reasons that we will explain.

Nitrogen Tanks - Homebrewing Needs

So, how do you buy the right nitrogen tank?

To answer that, we need to know first what we are looking at.

Nitrogen tanks are special tanks used for dispensing alcoholic beverages. Nitrogen tanks have been popular since the 1960s for enhancing beer in particular. They serve to add flavor, foam, substance and quality to the beer. 

Nitrogen tanks have several practical functions for dispensing beer. The first function is to provide the pressure to serve the beer in a glass. The barrel requires an absolute force to move the liquid to the dispenser, and the tank gives it.

The second function is to replace the gases lost during fermentation. In the fermentation process, a considerable amount of CO2 gets lost; this produces a decrease in flavor. Nitrogen adds even more flavor than CO2, improving product quality.

The third function is the aesthetic factor in the drink. Nitrogen not only allows the creation of the crown but also maintains it until the glass is completely empty.

Why do you need nitrogen tanks?

  • Smooth and creamy beer.

Nitrogen tanks add smoothness and texture to the beer. Nitrogen is insoluble in water without any taste or smell. Nitrogen mixes with beer and restores the gas lost in the fermentation process. Nitrogen adds permanent better texture and a mild flavor without bitter components.

In the case of CO2, although it was used to supply the same need, it adds a bitter and sharp taste to the beer. Another circumstance to consider is that CO2 adds a momentary texture to the beer. As the beer touches the air, the CO2 evaporates and causes the beer to lose consistency.   

  • Add a unique twist to your beer.

Nitrogen adds unique characteristics to the beer. The first and foremost is the mild delicious flavor that adds popularity to serve through a dispenser. Another quality that adds to it is the texture; it is not a watery texture but a thick one.

The creamy texture in the beer is not just an aesthetic aspect provided by the nitrogen tank. The surface gives greater pleasure to the person when drinking. Creaminess and flavor concentration are the best benefits of the nitrogen tank. 

In terms of attractiveness, the crown will stay for longer.

  • Make your beers more European.

In Europe, it is common to drink the most creamy beer with a high concentration of flavor and foam. In America, beer is more liquid without foam.

The use of nitrogen tanks is gaining popularity in the U.S. today. The purpose is to add a touch of flavor and characteristics from the typical European beer.

The most common characteristic is the mild taste of the beer and its low carbonation level. 

Nitrogen Tanks Characteristics

The tank has a key for regulating the pressure of the container. The cylinder contains pressurized nitrogen, and the handle allows its release at a specific pressure.

The next components are the nozzles and hoses for connecting it to the beer barrel. The hoses and the nose can vary depending on the type of tank and beer to be distributed. 

As can be seen, the primary function of nitrogen tanks is to provide the necessary pressure to move the beer. The tank emits nitrogen at an absolute force to transfer the beer. There are different types of containers: industrial ones with higher pressure and for breweries with a lower weight.

Another function of nitrogen tanks is to improve the quality of the beer. The beer loses quality in the production process due to the loss of CO2 during fermentation. Nitrogen mixes with the beer, enhancing the taste and increasing its consistency.

Some tanks mix a quantity of nitrogen with CO2. The container allows combining both gases in a proportion, 75% and 25% being the standard. The quality of the beer will depend on the balance and ingredients in it. You can change the proportion and find the ideal one for the beer you want to serve.

Advantages.

  • Creamy beer

Nitrogen, when mixed with beer, improves its consistency. Nitrogen adds more thickness to the beer, and it also adds more foam to it. Nitrogen, together with the pressure in the tank, generates a crown that lasts longer.

The characteristics already mentioned will remain in the beer until someone drinks it. It is the opposite case of CO2, which loses consistency on contact with air.

  • Stronger flavor.

Nitrogen has the particularity of enhancing the taste of beer and improve it considerably. Hydrogen not only recovers the feeling lost during the fermentation process but also strengthens and concentrates it.

In some instances, nitrogen does not produce this effect because of the beer recipe. The best brands use it for enhancing the taste incredibly. However, not everyone gets this result.

  • Less gas.

Nitrogen allows low concentrations of gases in the beverage. CO2 can make you feel bloated and gassy. It can be hard to enjoy a night of drinking when you’re constantly fighting burps.

Nitrogen replaces carbonic gas and improves its effects, besides improving flavor and texture. Nitrogen mixes with beer and does not dissipate on contact with air, making its effect permanent.

Factors to consider before buying one.

  • Nitrogen amount.

One factor to consider before buying a nitrogen tank is its presentation. Depending on the type of beer barrel and its flow, the size of the container will vary to a great extent. Usually, the tank comes in 2L, 3l, 5L, 10L, 20L, 30L, and 50L presentations.

  • Size.

Tank size is another factor to consider. The size varies greatly depending on the amount of nitrogen, and it is essential to know how much space you need. The more capacity, the larger the tank. A significantly large tank can result in a lack of space for the barrel and hoses and cause a malfunction.

  • Expensiveness.

Hydrogen is harder to find than CO2. Therefore, getting a hydrogen tank is going to cost you more than the alternative. Before getting one, you have to evaluate if you can afford one. You also need to think about whether you really need one.

  • Your beer recipe.

It is essential to know your recipe and the effects that nitrogen will have on it. As previously stated, nitrogen enhances the taste when used by professionals. Nevertheless, beer brewers with less experience may have trouble getting the same results. Your beer may even lose its character if you decide to add nitrogen to it.

Best Nitrogen Tanks for HomeBrew

Kegco I22-580 22 Cu. Ft.

  • Specifications.

It’s a nitrogen tank made of reinforced aluminium material. With a proportion of 75% of nitrogen 25% Oxygen, it has a regulating valve to allow gas flow and nitrogen/oxygen ratio.

The tank nitrogen pressure is above 2216 PSI/153 BAR, which makes it ideal for transporting all types of beer, from the thickest to the most watery.

The material of the tank is very light but at the same time, resistant. The reinforced aluminium is lighter than the iron used in conventional containers. The reinforcement adds strength, without adding more weight, creating the ideal balance.

The combination system of 75% nitrogen and 25% oxygen is a double-edged sword. Sure, it can allow you to improve the quality of the beer. The problem is to locate the right proportion. It can cause disastrous results in your product.

  • Advantages.

It is easy to move because of its weight. You won’t have a hard time moving and installing it.

The nitrogen and oxygen mixing system allows you to test and obtain different results for your beer. You can try and get a unique flavor for your customers with a different proportion than 75% and 25%.

Nitrogen pressure is one of the highest available and allows you to transfer all types of beer from the barrel to the glass. The valve enables the ability of regulating the weight to avoid loss or spillage of the product because of the high speed of the liquid.

  • Disadvantages.

The main disadvantage filling the tank. The tank is filled only by the cylinder manufacturer. To fill the tank, you must go to the factory or an authorized agent and have them do it. The detail is that there are few agents within the territory, making the process very difficult.

Another related disadvantage is the high cost of transport your tank. You will have to resort to considerable expenses to transport the tank back and forth.   

New 60 cu ft Aluminum Nitrogen Cylinder.

  • Specifications.

A tank developed with galvanized and reinforced aluminium, the shell is lightweight and resistant to shock, corrosion and rust. It has a CGA580 valve: one of the best gas pressure valves in the United States.

The tank has a six-month satisfaction guarantee. In the event of a failure, damage or dissatisfaction, the company will change your product.

The tank weighs just over 10 kg, almost half that of a CO2 tank. Another quality is the outlet pressure; the valve of this cylinder allows pressure up to 2216 PSI / 153 bar.  

  • Advantages.

The cylinder is resistant to corrosion and oxidation. As a result, the maintenance of the metal is minimal. Maintenance costs will be lower than with other tank types. The tank is not only corrosion-resistant, but also withstands shocks. The aluminium is reinforced, making the cylinder resistant but lightweight.

The satisfaction guarantee is a feature that few manufacturers offer. It’s rare to find a manufacturer that would give you a new product in case yours fails a month or two after purchase, let alone six months.

The pressure valve can operate both in breweries and industrial level, providing greater versatility to the product.  

  • Disadvantages.

The product has only one proportion, implying only one possibility. In case the recipe is not compatible, you will not be able to make any modification to the balance. For this reason, it is advisable to check your recipe well and polish it if you buy this type of tank.

Another disadvantage is that it comes empty with the purchase, which implies having to fill it. You also need to go to an authorized entity to fill your tank.

You have to be careful in case you buy this cylinder used. The cylinder allows various types of gases other than nitrogen, which means possible residues from previous gases.

20 Cubic Foot Nitrogen Gas Tank by KegWorks.

  • Specifications.

A tank developed with iron – a resistant but heavy material – it has a storage capacity of 20L. The capacity is large enough to hold 3 to 4 barrels of beer.

It offers an affordable price and its iron body is easy to maintain in good shape. It only requires a treatment for avoiding oxidation and corrosion of the tank; you won’t have to worry about it breaking.

The tank has an outlet pressure of 2216 PSI, with a ratio of 75% nitrogen and 25% oxygen without the option of changing it.

  • Advantages.

It is an economical and durable product and can withstand up to 4 barrels of beer, which means you can use it for a while.

The cylinder is strong and stable thanks to its manufacturing material. Iron is more resistant to impact than aluminium, allowing more excellent durability for the tank.

The tank is a fully commercial element, which means that you will not have to make adaptations for its use.

It has a high outlet pressure to serve the beer in the glass and sending the desired proportion of nitrogen and oxygen.

You can add a better taste to the beer with its 75% nitrogen and 25% oxygen ratio.

  • Disadvantages.

The main disadvantage is the manufacturing material of the nitrogen tank. The tank is made of a weighty material which makes it difficult to transport. Another problem of iron is its high oxidation and corrosion capacity.

Another disadvantage is the fixed proportion of 75% and 25%. The system forces the seller to study the recipe before buying the tank. The ratio may not be adequate for the proportions of the ingredients in the beer recipe. As such, you’ll have to adapt your recipe to this tank.

New 40 cu ft Steel Nitrogen Cylinder by Varies.

  • Specifications.

A cylinder made of an alloy that mixes steel with iron, it weighs about 16 Kg to 17 Kg. It has a thickness of almost 7cm, making it resistant to blows and falls.

The oxygen purity hovers around 95% while the nitrogen purity lies between 95% to 99.99%. The mixture is ideal for most beer recipes thanks to this aspect. It’s hard to find someone complaining about it not improving their beer.

  • Advantages.

It is a low priced product; you can save between $40 to $60 by choosing it over others. Saving money can be tough when choosing nitrogen for your drinks.

The material is impact-resistant, contains about 7 cm thick, and it ensures safety. The alloy of steel and iron is also resistant to corrosion and oxidation suffered by other metals.

It has a high purity level inside the tank. The tank has a purity between 95% and 99% in both nitrogen and oxygen.

This tank is ideal for independent business and individual beer crafters. It’s virtually guaranteed for your flavor to be improved

.

  • Disadvantages.

The main disadvantage is the weight of the cylinder. It oscillates around the 20 kg mark. It means it’s one of the heaviest so far. Therefore, transporting your tank will also be harder; it could increase your costs, and installing it is annoying.

Another disadvantage can be the unique concentration of nitrogen and oxygen inside the cylinder. It has an exceptional strength which prevents tests and improvements in flavors. High purity is problematic with low calibre recipes. Nitrogen does not concentrate the characters well, which may make it impossible for the taste to evolve.

Luckily, that’s unlikely to happen.

22 Cu Ft CGA580 by Beverage Elements.

  • Specifications.

It’s made from aluminium with high strength and resistant to corrosion. The tank ships without nitrogen inside, so you need to fill it after purchasing it. It’s 5.25 by 19.6 inches tall if you count its valve.

It features a new CGA580 valve which works for blending gasses. Its exterior comes in bright silver with a cranberry-colored dome. The service pressure in this nitrogen tank is 2216 PSI—about average among other products.

  • Advantages.

The tank is relatively inexpensive when compared to similar options; buying similar tanks locally can even net you twice the price of this option. It’s also lightweight, so carrying it around isn’t a noticeable hassle.

Its aluminium cover is highly resistant to corrosion, and its reinforced, so you won’t have to worry a lot about it falling. That’s not something you can say for many other aluminium nitrogen tanks in the market.

The valve that comes with it also allows for a higher level of customization regarding your recipes. You can play with gas blends to see how they affect your beer; you can find unique combinations not possible with other tanks.

Lastly, the tank looks great. It won’t alter the quality of your beverage, but it’ll look attractive anywhere you place it.

  • Disadvantages.

The main disadvantage is that it comes empty as you purchase it. You’ll need to think about that before you get one; filling it will add to its real cost. This issue is common among tanks, so it’s not particular to this one, but it’s still something to consider.

The aluminium body is stronger than other similar options. However, it’s not as strong as an iron tank.

Conclusion

Nitrogen tanks allow you to improve the quality of your beer. Improvement ranges from flavor enhancement to texture and crown. 

Nitrogen replaces the gases lost during fermentation by recovering the lost elements and adding more flavor.

Nitrogen tanks are becoming more popular today thanks to the properties it adds to your beverages. However, it’s important to study its effects and if it’s actually going to be good for you.

Lead marketer, brewer, dad, and husband. Pretty much an all-round awesome guy.