Why is there a ball in Guinness cans?

GUINNESS cans hide a secret; a weird plastic ball that helps to give your beer the creamy head typical to the dry Irish stout.

The plastic devices called widgets blast the stout beer with nitrogen gas to aerate the head, making it taste as though it was just poured fresh from the tap.

Why is there a ball in Guinness cans?

Nitrogenisation is the key to making a beer that’s rich and creamy, with a smooth texture.

According to the Guinness website, Guinness pairs nitrogen gas and carbon dioxide when the beer is poured in pubs on draught,  to balance out the texture.

In order to replicate this effect for a Guinness serve in a can, little white balls called widgets are used, to blast the stout with nitrogen gas.

In cans, widgets are spherical, while in bottles they’re shaped like rockets.

How does the Guinness ball work?

The Guiness ball is a hollow, spherical piece of plastic with a tiny hole in it.

It looks a little like a mini ping pong ball, Business Insider says.

In bottles of Guinness with widgets, the device is more like a rocket, and is around three inches long.

Brewers add pressurized nitrogen to the beer during the canning process, which trickles into the widget’s hole – along with a little bit of beer.

The whole can is then pressurized. 

The pressure inside the can drops when it is opened, to equalise with the pressure in the room. But the pressure inside the widget remains higher than the pressure in the beer around it – due to the tiny hole which allows gas to escape.

This process makes the nitrogen inside the widget squirt into the beer, creating a burst of tiny nitrogen bubbles that rise to the top of the beer.

This creates the thick, creamy head like the one on a Guinness you’d be served in the pub.

Are you supposed to shake Guinness in a can?


According to the Guinness website, Guinness bottles or cans should be chilled for at least 24 hours before serving.

Once you crack the cap or the tab, tilt the glass and bottle towards each other and pour the beer in one single go.

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