The Plastic Ball In Guinness Cans Explained

widget_guinessAfter cracking a refreshing can of Guinness, most of you have probably wondered, What is the deal with the little plastic ball floating around in cans of Guinness? Well, today you get your answer.

The little plastic ball called a “Widget” was first patented by the Guinness company years ago to add the right kind of head on their thick and creamy stout, which is less fizzy than regular lager beers like Bud Light.

When Guinness is canned the brewers add a shot of liquid nitrogen to help pressurize the can. 

As the pressure in the can rises, compressed nitrogen and beer are forced into the sphere through a tiny pin sized hole.

When you open the can, the beer and compressed nitrogen within the sphere depressurize and are shot out into the beer. This disturbance causes the CO2 to bubble up which creates the foamy head at the top of the glass. The only thing left to do next is drink!



  1. Nick says:

    Thanks for waisting thirty seconds of my life! I'm going to go look at that chick from UM.

  2. TROY says:

    i like balls

  3. Arthur says:

    Before they invented the widget, you used to get a black plastic "syringe"-type gadget with your cans – you would use it to shoot air into the Guinness after you poured it to help give it a head. Now you know!

    And Guinness is a stout, not a larger :)

  4. spuffler says:

    nick…. you've wasted a lot of your own life – "waist" is not the correct root word for waste.

  5. Oloff says:

    Interesting. I knew why it was in there, but not how it did what it did. Although I would like to point out one tidbit I found out about Guinness. It's actually the Nitrogen which is the "carbonation" in their standard fare. Though I'm sure there's some CO2 in there, its the nitrogen which makes that thick head and the tiny bubbles which make that cool rising cloud effect when you pour it into a glass. As cool as this is, it kinda sucks for us homebrewers out there, since we would have to buy a kegging system with nitrogen to make a propper clone!

  6. Souzaphone711 says:

    I hate to say it, but in Guiness Draught, there is absolutely no CO2. It’s Nitrogen stout, which means all those bubbles in that creamy head are nitrogen. You are correct in that there’s nitrogen in the widget.

  7. Shizz says:

    Yeeaaaa……that's totally printed on the containers. No big mystery.

  8. Shaun says:

    Actually…there is CO2 in Guinness. About 1.2 volumes of CO2. CO2 is a byproduct of the fermentation process.

    More CO2 is introduced when served. Typically, the beer gas mixture is 75% nitrogen and 25% CO2. That mixture is dissolved into the beer adding even more CO2 to the beer.

  9. nitro converter says:

    Wow… souzaphone… your ignorance is amazing. I specialize in nitro beers and i hate to break it to you, but there IS co2 in the beer. The nitrogen is only used to keep the pressure at a higher level, with less dissolved co2. Nitrogen is not soluble, and that is why they use it to pressurize nitrogen beer. At the higher level of pressure necessary to force a nitro beer through a creamer tap, that amount of co2 would extremely over carbonate the beer. The normal level of dissolved co2 in a regular beer is around 15%. the amount of dissolved co2 in a nitrogen beer is usually between 3 and 5%. Again, the nitro is only used as an inert gas that wont dissolve into the beer, forcing it throught the tiny holes in the aerator plate inside the creamer (nitro) tap. If you hooked a regular keg of beer up to a nitrogen tap, you would get a glass full of head. Due to the concentration of co2.

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