How to Make a Black and Tan

Black and tan beer

The Spruce


  • Total: 3 mins
  • Prep: 3 mins
  • Cook: 0 mins
  • Yield: 1 beer (1 serving)
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
146 Calories
0g Fat
12g Carbs
2g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 1 beer (1 serving)
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 tonight? Enjoy two completely different brews in the same glass with the popular black and tan. This is the layered beer drink that you can see poured 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 is not. The name is derived from the two beers that it requires: a pale ale (like Bass Ale, 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, you'll find the two layers remain separated and that the finish is the complete opposite of the first drink.

The black and tan has transformed modern bar taps, which are now often decorated with a "black and tan spoon." As you will see, the spoon is the key to creating the layers of this and similar beer drinks.


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.

    Black and Tan
     The Spruce
  3. Float the Guinness on top by slowly pouring it over the back of a spoon to fill the glass.

    Black and Tan recipe
     The Spruce
  4. Serve and enjoy!

The Trick to Creating Layers of Beer

There are two elements that make layered beer drinks a success: the density of the two beers and a slow, indirect pour.

The density of the beer: 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, any given beer may have a different density than another, 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 are as heavy as Bass Pale Ale and can withstand Guinness' weight. If you want to try this drink with different brands of beer, you may need to experiment to find successful combinations.

The slow, indirect pour: Again, taking lessons from layered cocktails and shots, the layered beer drink will only work if poured correctly. Pouring your second beer in the normal manner—tilting the glass and pouring down the side—will not work if you want it to float on top of another.

You have to block and slow down the beer pour, which is why a spoon is necessary. By flipping any spoon over and pouring the beer over the back of it, the flow is interrupted and distributed. This gentle pouring method allows the two liquids to remain separate as they come together in the glass.

To get a perfect pour, you will need to practice. It's not a bad practice, though! Enjoy a few of those "practice beers" and take your time perfecting your technique.


  • 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 thing and will likely be seen as rude in Ireland. Instead, ask for your Guinness straight from the tap. The same etiquette rule applies to the Irish car bomb.
  • If you really want to take your layered beer experience to the next level, The Perfect Black and Tan website is dedicated to layering beer and has an impressive number of beer combinations that can be layered. They even have a section filled with triple-layered beers and have developed a "beer layering tool." This device looks like the drain stopper for your kitchen sink and makes pouring beer even easier than the bartender's spoon trick.

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

The Black and Tan is not alone in the world of layered beers and there are many other combinations that work. For all of these popular drinks, the technique is the same, only the beers have changed. 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 like 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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