In this post, I am going to talk about beer gas, and blended gas. The types of beer gas used in draft beer systems vary depending on the type of system, length of run, temperature, and type of beer. However, it’s important to understand how blended gas works with a draft beer system to effectively use it.
We will also dive into the different types of blends of mixed gas used. How to deliver beer gas to draft beer systems correctly. Why different blends are used in some systems vs others. Finally, where you can source mixed gas and the equipment to power a beer system.
What is Beer Gas
Beer Gas is a mixture of C02 and Nitrogen gases used to propel beer. Used in a beer system while keeping beer in equilibrium.
It’s used because the distance traveled requires more applied pressure on the keg. If pure c02 is used at high pressure. Over carbonation will be a result since c02 dissolves into beer easily. This is why nitrogen is an alternative gas and compliment to C02. Nitrogen is odorless and is harder to dissolve into beer compared to C02.
Why Use Beer Gas
There are two main reasons why you should use beer gas. One is to keep the beer carbonation levels where they need to be while, delivering great draft beer to bar stations around a property.
The type of beer will determine the right blend of beer gas to use. Different styles of beer have different units of carb. Units of carb will tell us what mixture of blended beer gas to use.
For example, CO2 volumes for stout beers and Guinness range from 1.2 volumes to craft stouts up to 1.7 volumes. Which would lean more to a nitrogen mix blended gas. Ales and lagers have carb units from 2.2 to 2.8 volumes.
Usually, 2.5 units of carb is an average with Ales and Lagers. Some craft beers carbonation may exceed 3 volumes. Which would require more of Co2 blended gas.
Now let’s look at a beer carbonation chart to show how to find the right mixture of gas to use for a certain type of beer.
Beer Carbonation Chart
This chart is important to understand because not all draft systems require the same mixed gas. It all depends on the beer and beer system itself.
The right beer gas depends on factors such as style of beer, temperature of the beer cooler, carbonation of the beer, system resistance, and the total applied pressure required.
The purpose of the chart above will help locate the right blend of beer gas needed. It shows the units of carb on the left-hand side of a type of beer. The pressure needed to achieve the units of carb and the mixed gas ratio above.
This is very important to understand. Using the wrong mixed or blended gas will cause the beer to fall out of equilibrium. I know it sounds like a lot, but this is an important point to understand when it comes to mixed gas use.
If the CO2 partial pressure in the mix is too high over-carbonated beer will be the result.
If Nitrogen is used on beer for a longer period of time than required, the beer will go flat. Now that we know what pressure to set the mixed gas at for dispensing beers.
Let’s talk about what type of beers to dispense with the different blends of gas.
Different Types of Beer Gas
70 C02 / 30 Nitrogen Beer Gas
This mixed gas is 70 percent C02 and 30 percent Nitrogen. The gas pressure on this can be turned up to around 22-24 psi without over carbonating beers with units of carb around 2.5, which includes ales and lagers.
This is a mixed gas I use the majority of the time, installing beer systems if I’m not using beer pumps.
The next gas I want to talk about is “ Guinness Gas”.
Guinness Gas is a mix of 25 percent C02 and 75 percent Nitrogen. This mix is designed for Nitrogenated beers like Guinness. Units of carb from 1.3-1.7. It’s used to dispense Guinness beer, and this mixture, with the use of a Nitro Faucet, gives Guinness that cascading effect when it's dispensed.
This mix can also be used to dispense red and white wine. There is a little C02 in wine, and we’ve used this mix for draft wine systems.
One more thing is that Guinness gas can also be used for Nitro IPA or other out of the box beers trying new things.
60 C02 / 40 Nitrogen Blended Gas
I don’t use this gas in the field because it’s so heavy with Nitrogen. This blend can cause ales and lagers to go flat in a matter of days. Ideal for beers with low levels of units of carb.
The only benefit of this blend for a draft system would be to apply a higher pressure. So you could push a beer a great distance.
The only problem is there aren’t many beers you could use this mix on. Because it will cause the beer to go flat with a heavy dose of Nitrogen over an extended time.
How to Use Beer Gas in a Beer Systems
This is where blended gasses are pre-mixed by suppliers and you can purchase mix gas cylinders that fit the mix you’re looking for.
Cylinders come in the standard 70/30 C02 to Nitro mix as we talked about above and in the Guinness gas blend for nitrogenated beers like Guinness.
The problem with cylinders is they are more expensive than other alternatives when it comes to sourcing blended gas. Also, sometimes the mixes aren’t always the right ratio.
One way to overcome these challenges is to invest in a gas blender or a nitrogen generator/blender.
Beer Gas Blenders
These pieces of equipment are really cool. They take the inflow from c02 and Nitrogen mix the gas to the right ratio, or blend. Some blenders just have one supply port for designated mix, but others will have multiple ports for different blends. This is significant because you can pour a variety of products from a draft system like coffee, and wine.
These Blenders are very effective and efficient at what they do. Some even come with a built-in leak detector. In the event, you have a small leak in your system. You’ll know when you fix it because the leak detector will show that it is fixed.
There’s one more way to get blended gas and that’s with on-site blending.
A nitrogen generator is a relatively compact machine that encompasses an air compressor which feeds a filter or sieve. This 99% pure or better nitrogen is then placed in a stationary pressure tank near the generator.
The generated nitrogen along with a CO2 supplies blended gas to the specific draft beer system. Blends are normally 25% CO2 / 75% nitrogen for nitrogenated beers such as Guinness and 70/30 mix for ales and lagers. Nitrogen can also be used for dispensing wine and coffee.
Where to Get Beer Gas
The easiest way to get beer gas is usually from your local air/gas distributor. You can pick up the cylinders and get the mix that is best for you. However, as we mentioned above, this isn’t the ideal way to do this. But for convenience, this is a great solution.
Investing in Draft Beer Equipment
The next step would be to invest in a gas blender. One that fits your draft beer needs. Most of the time a blender mixing 70/30 Gas will be the most popular blended gas to use. Followed by Guinness gas which is 25 % Co2 to 75 % Nitrogen.
The price of gas blenders will range from approximately $600 up to $1,000 or more. Over the long term, the gas blender will save you money because you won’t need to buy pre-mixed cylinders. You’ll only need to pick up Co2 and Nitrogen cylinders. The blender will do the mixing automatically.
If you’re a bigger establishment or property like a casino or stadium. Nitrogen generators can be a viable option. Usually involves a higher investment upfront, or rent to own option. But over the long term, the property will save money over cylinder purchases.
In closing, we talked about how blended gas is useful for draft beer systems. We mentioned the different blends.
- 25% Co2 / 75% Nitro ( Guinness Gas ) Used for nitrogenated beers. Also wines
- 30% Nitro/ 70% C02 Blended Gas used on Ales and lagers
- 60 % C02 / 40 % Nitro for Stouts Light Unit of Carb beers.
These blends should be used accordingly to the type of beers that are being served at an establishment. The failure to understand the right blends. Will cause draft beer to become flat after a couple of days because the mixture isn’t keeping the beer in balance with its units of carb.
Next, was the different types of equipment used to get blended gas to a beer system. Whether it’s from pre-mixed cylinders from your local gas distributor. Installing a gas blender for your beer system, or setting up a nitrogen generator.
All these methods have their pros and cons, and what scenario best fits or helps a property.