How to Make a Black and Tan

Black and tan beer in a pint glass

The Spruce

 

  • Total: 3 mins
  • Prep: 3 mins
  • Cook: 0 mins
  • Serving: 1 serving
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
146 Calories
0g Fat
12g Carbs
2g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 1
Amount per serving
Calories 146
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 14mg 1%
Total Carbohydrate 12g 4%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Protein 2g
Calcium 14mg 1%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Can't decide which style of beer to enjoy? The beauty of the black and tan is that you don't have to decide—you can enjoy two completely different brews in the same glass. This is the layered beer drink that you see in bars across the United States, and it's very easy to make at home. 

While some may think the name of this drink refers to Irish politics, we can assure you that it does not. The name is derived from the two beers that it requires: a pale ale (usually Bass Ale, but can also be Boulevard or Sierra Nevada) at the bottom and Guinness stout (or a similar dark stout) on the top. These two beers make perfect "black and tan" layers in the glass if they're poured correctly. As you drink it, the two layers remain separated and the last sip is the complete opposite of the first.

The density of the beers is important. As with any layered drink, one liquid will only float on top of the other if it has a lighter density (or specific gravity) than the liquid on the bottom. Because ​​beers are not like liquor, they can have different densities, even if the two are of the same style. Not all stouts will float on top like Guinness (though many do) and not all pale ales can withstand Guinness's weight the way a Bass can. If you want to try this drink with different brands, you may need to experiment to find successful combinations.

The other key component to making a successful black and tan is the spoon. This drink has transformed many bar taps, which are now often decorated with a "black and tan spoon." Taking lessons from layered cocktails and shots, the black and tan will only work with a slow, indirect pour. By pouring the beer over the back of a spoon, the flow is interrupted and distributed, allowing the two liquids to remain separate as they come together in the glass.

To get a perfect pour, you will need to practice. Enjoy a few of those "practice beers" and take your time perfecting your technique.

Ingredients

  • 6 ounces ​pale ale beer
  • 6 ounces Guinness stout beer

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Black and tan recipe ingredients
    The Spruce
  2. Fill a pint glass halfway with the pale ale.

    Pale ale half full in a pint glass
    The Spruce
  3. Float the Guinness on top by slowly pouring it over the back of a spoon to fill the glass. Serve and enjoy!

    Guinness floated on top of pale ale to make a black and tan
    The Spruce

Why Shouldn't You Order a Black and Tan in Ireland?

If you travel to Ireland, the one thing you should not do is order a black and tan at the pub—it's an American drink and will likely be seen as rude in Ireland. Though the beer drink is named for the color of the two layers, the Black and Tans were a group that assisted the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) during the Irish War of Independence (1919–1921). Known for violent tactics, the name Black and Tan brings back memories of a tragic time in Ireland's history and is seen as offensive.

Instead, ask for your Guinness straight from the tap or try ordering a "half and half." The same etiquette rule applies to the Irish slammer (for years known as the Irish car bomb).

How Strong Is a Black and Tan?

The alcohol content of a black and tan is simply an average of the two beers you pour. For example, if you go with the standard Bass Pale Ale and Guinness combination, it comes out to about 4.7 percent ABV.

Recipe Variations

There are many other layered beer combinations that work. In general, a drink with "black" in the name is going to call for Guinness, though similar stouts may work just as well.

  • Black and Blue: Blue Moon topped with Guinness.
  • Black and Brown: Newcastle Brown Ale topped with Guinness.
  • Black and Gold: Hard cider such as Angry Orchard or Magners topped with Guinness.
  • Black and Red: Raspberry lambic topped with chocolate stout. Or Killian's Irish Red topped with Guinness.
  • Black and Orange: Pumpkin ale topped with a stout.
  • Black and White: Any light-colored beer topped with a stout.

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