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The Nitrogen Widget Is The Greatest Invention Of My Lifetime January 3, 2008

Posted by Jim Berkin in Food.
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My New Year’s resolution for 2007, which I held to admirably, was to drink more. I think I’ll continue my resolve into 2008 as well, tough as it may be. I’m not sure where I get such self-discipline, and it may even spill over into my determination to look at even more ‘net porn in the coming year. That’s just the kind of man I am, dammit.

But I digress. In keeping with my resolution, in watching a lot of sports, and in preparing meals that go well with it, I’ve been drinking more beer lately. I’m spoiled to some degree when it comes to beer, since I prefer the fresh draft stuff at a restaurant or bar over the bottle, and in the past this reduced my beer guzzling and probably increased the wine consumption. But thanks to the marvelous invention of the nitrogen-spouting can widget, more and more brands of ales and stouts are marketing versions of themselves that are about as close as you can get to keg tapping at home without the actual keg.

The first to use this device was Guinness, and the only difference I can detect in the Guinness fresh draught and the Guinness on tap I’ve gotten while dining out is that the home version is a little creamier and milder, but certainly drinkable and worth it. A recent trip to a newly opened BevMo in my area yielded a few more nitro-ales-in-the-can, mostly from the British isles. Boddington’s Pub Ale comes out a nice amber color with a decent amount of foam, and a slightly bitter but certainly not in the realm of India Pale Ale-bitter flavor. Even better was Belhaven Scottish Ale, which is more of a nut-brown and nuttier flavored ale, with a nice aroma and crisp finish that made it a perfect match for some chili-spiced roast chicken I made for dinner.

I also enjoy porters, which fall between ales and stouts on the beer scale, but evidently are not popular enough to merit the nitrowidget treatment, at least not yet. Two of the bottled porters I enjoy are Anchor Steam Porter, which I have only been able to find at BevMo and at a small Armenian market near me where I also buy loose-leaf Indian teas – and the other is Black Butte Porter from Oregon’s Deschutes Brewery, which Von’s/Pavilion’s carries regularly. Porters have a wonderful heavy hoppy bitterness which dissolves in the mouth to the tastes of both sweet and bitter chocolate. They go wonderfully with beef dishes and stews. I also like a good porter whenever I make spicy black beans and rice.

And remember, beer is good for you! It’s been scientifically proven!

And even if it’s not, who cares? I’m not gonna live forever. L’chaim!

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