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Black and Tan Recipe (Irish Half and Half)

This black and tan recipe is such an easy layered drink to impress your guests at home. Also known as the Irish half and half, it’s a true classic.

A hoppy pale ale sits at the bottom, topped with a bitter dark stout.

Shot of tow tone colored cocktail made with pale ale sits at the bottom, topped with a bitter dark stout on top.
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It’s a whole experience. The flavors at the top of the glass are wildly different from the last sip. 

Can’t decide between an IPA or a Guinness? Have the best of both worlds with this black and tan cocktail!

What Is Black and Tan?

A black and tan is a classic layered beer drink that pairs a heavy IPA with a lighter dark stout. 

However, its name doesn’t exactly come from the colors. Black and Tans were a group of British fighters in the Irish War of Independence. 

It’s perfectly fine to order a black and tan outside of Ireland. If you find yourself in an Irish pub, it’s best to call it a half and half to avoid the ire of the Irish!

What Two Beers are in a Black and Tan?

You only need two beers to create a layered black and tan: a pale ale and a stout beer. However, the type of beer matters in creating those layers. Here are some good suggestions. 

  • Pale ale. A good IPA, such as Bass or Harp Lager, creates a good head and a light finish to a black and tan. Just stick to an ale that won’t overpower the stout. 
  • Stout beer. For a good stout beer, look no further than Guinness. It has a bold flavor that pairs great with a hoppy IPA. If you aren’t a fan of Guinness, try Murphy’s Irish Stout, Left Hand Milk Stout, or Founders Breakfast Stout.
Irish half and half cocktail with pale colored ale on bottom and black beer on top.

How to Make a Black and Tan 

For a perfect layered beer drink, it’s all about the pour. Here’s everything you need to know about creating a happy hour-worthy black and tan. 

1. Pour the pale ale. Pour the pale ale halfway up a glass and create a good head. Three fingers are perfect for keeping the two beers separate. 

2. Layer the stour beer. Flip a spoon upside down, and pour the stout over the concave side of the spoon. Work slowly and carefully to create a sharp layer. 

3. Serve. Serve this cocktail immediately, and enjoy!

How to Layer a Black and Tan 

Layering a black and tan is all about the pour. You may have a few failed attempts, but that’s ok. They’ll still taste great! 

Here are a few tips to create those sharp, iconic layers:

  • Create a good head. First, you need the pale ale to create a head that’s at least three fingers tall. This step helps create a barrier to prevent the two beers from mixing. 
  • The indirect pour. This is where your spoon comes in. While there are specialty-made black and tan spoons, an ordinary kitchen spoon works. Pouring it over a spoon slows down the pour so it won’t sink to the bottom of the glass. 
  • Finding the right beer. If you don’t have beers of varying density, this layered drink won’t work. Guinness Extra Stout, for instance, has a density similar to IPAs. So, even with the perfect pour, it won’t create those perfect layers. 
Two glasses of layered half and half cocktail.

Drink Variations 

What I love most about layered beer drinks is you can experiment with so many different flavors. Here are some of a few of my favorite variations on this classic. 

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  • The Black and Blue. The black and blue infuses a dark stout with the spicy notes of Blue Moon. It’s even better served with an orange slice as a garnish. 
  • Black Velvet. The black velvet is perfect for a celebration when you still want to sip on a hoppy beer. It pairs bubbly sparkling wine (or champagne) with your favorite dark stout. So fancy!
  • The Black and White. Prefer lighter beers? If IPAs aren’t your thing, the black and white is a great variation. The lighter beer provides a nice, light finish under a dark stout. 
  • Snakebite. Love ciders? Then you have to try the snakebite. It combines a dark ale with a sweeter cider. The contrast of dark and sweet flavors is a must-try. 
  • The Black and Orange. Step aside, pumpkin lattes! This variation is perfect for fall. It pairs a dark stout with pumpkin ale that adds the season’s flavor. 
  • The Black and Red. Here’s a variation for those who want something a little fruity. This variation pairs raspberry lambic with a dark stout. The sweet and sour notes of the raspberry Iambic pair well with a chocolate stout.

Black and Tan Recipe (Irish Half and Half)

Servings

1

servings
Prep time

5

minutes
Calories

149

kcal

Try this classic black and tan for a beer experience like no other. The layers of pale ale and bitter stout create the perfect buzz!

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces pale ale (such as Bass or Harp Lager)

  • 8 ounces stout beer (such as Guinness)

Instructions

  • Pour the pale ale into a pint glass. Fill it halfway and allow a decent head to form (about three fingers).
  • Next, layer the stout. Place a spoon (concave side up) close to the surface of the pale ale. Slowly pour the stout over the back of the spoon. The stout should gently sit on top of the pale ale, creating that iconic layered effect.
  • Continue pouring until the glass is full. Aim for a roughly even split between the two beers.
  • Serve immediately and enjoy!

Notes

  • Chill both beers thoroughly. The colder they are, the easier it will be to layer them.
  • The key to a good black and tan is careful layering. Go slow and let the beers naturally separate.
Black and Tan Recipe (Irish Half and Half)

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INSANELYGOOD

Hey there! I'm Kim. I love running, cooking, and curling up with a good book! I share recipes for people who LOVE good food, but want to keep things simple :)

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