Black and Tan

A Half-and-Half Beer Drink With Many Variations

black and tan beer drink

The Spruce Eats / Photographer: Margot Cavin, Food Stylist: Kristin Stangl

Prep: 3 mins
Cook: 0 mins
Total: 3 mins
Serving: 1 serving
Yield: 1 drink
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
77 Calories
0g Fat
6g Carbs
1g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 1
Amount per serving
Calories 77
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 7mg 0%
Total Carbohydrate 6g 2%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Total Sugars 0g
Protein 1g
Vitamin C 0mg 0%
Calcium 7mg 1%
Iron 0mg 0%
Potassium 48mg 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.)

The Black and Tan is the layered beer drink that you see in bars across the United States, and it's very easy to make at home. There are also numerous variations of this Half-and-Half style beer drink.

What Two Beers Are in a Black and Tan?

The name is derived from the two beers that it requires: a Bass pale ale at the bottom and Guinness stout beer 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.

What Does Black and Tan Mean in Ireland?

The Irish independence movement of the early 1920s faced opposition, suppression, and brutality by a British parliamentary force who were nicknamed "black and tans" because of their uniforms of khaki pants and dark green shirts. For this reason, ordering a Black and Tan drink, particularly in Ireland, is not appropriate. An alternative name for this floating beer drink is Half and Half.

How Do You Layer a Black and Tan?

The density of the beers is important. To make a successful Black and Tan always start with the pale ale and then top with the Guinness. As with any layered drink, one liquid will only float on top of the other if it has a lighter density than the liquid on the bottom. Because ​​beers are not like liquor, they can have different densities, even if the two are 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 does (though Sierra Nevada does a good job if you are looking for an alternative pale ale). If you want to try this drink with different brands, you may need to experiment to find successful combinations to yield the best float.

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.


Click Play to See This Black and Tan Recipe Come Together

"With this beer cocktail, which combines pale ale and Guinness stout, you can practice your layering technique on the cheap. Instead of using pricey or hard-to-find spirits, it just uses two commonly found beers....After pouring in the pale ale to fill half the glass, I poured in the Guinness over the back of a spoon. The beer slowly flowed over and settled on top of the pale ale no problem." —Danielle Centoni

Black and Tan Tester Image
A Note From Our Recipe Tester


  • 6 ounces pale ale beer

  • 6 ounces Guinness stout beer

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    ingredients for black and tan

    The Spruce Eats / Photographer: Margot Cavin, Food Stylist: Kristin Stangl

  2. Fill a pint glass halfway with the pale ale.

    pale ale beer poured into a pint glass for black and tan

    The Spruce Eats / Photographer: Margot Cavin, Food Stylist: Kristin Stangl

  3. Float the Guinness on top by slowly pouring it over the back of a spoon to fill the glass. Serve and enjoy.

    Guiness being poured over a spoon into pint glass with pale ale beer in it

    The Spruce Eats / Photographer: Margot Cavin, Food Stylist: Kristin Stangl

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. 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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