How to Make a Black & Tan or Half & Half

I love a good beer and more than a good beer, I love a good bartender. Black and tans are a fun drink where a stout (normally Guinness) is floated atop an ale (traditionally Bass). I used to order a black and tan when testing out a new establishment and if the bartender couldn’t make a decent one, he was then suspect and nothing complicated would be ordered. Ever. Making a black and tan is easily done at home, but it does require a little practice. In honor of my favorite holiday. St Patrick’s Day, we made some drinks!

Technically what I am about to show you is not a true black and tan because it is made with Harp (which is a lager) not Bass which makes it a Half and Half, but the technique is exactly the same. And in Ireland, a black and tan is  frequently called a half and half. Black and Tan can be considered an offensive term because the black and tan name represents the British uniforms from when they fought against the Irish Republican Army early in the 20th century. But this is a beer lesson not a history lesson and pretty much everything we do in America with regards to St Patrick’s Day is probably offensive to some one, so off we go!

1. You will need: 2 pint glasses, 1 Guiness (or other stout), 1 Harp or Bass (or other ale/lager), a soup spoon, a bottle opener.

2. Pour half of the ale into a pint glass, tilting the glass slightly to keep the head at about and inch or so.

3. Return the glass to an upright position,

4. Place the soup spoon upside down over the glass resting the handle on the edge of the pint glass. The tip of the spoon can be touching the edge of the glass or not, but the spoon edge should be above the head of the ale.

5. Slowly pour the stout on to the back of the spoon, letting the beer gently run down the spoon and settle above the ale. Don’t let the beer run off the sides or handle of the spoon.

6. Continue pouring about half the stout into the glass. There should be a decent sized head on the top, but the one pictured below is about the max.


Thanks to hubs for a special appearance by his hands! It was harder than anticipated to take a decent picture of the demarcation in our poorly lit dining room, so the last picture is indeed from a different set. Also,  I wanted to show of my shifty eye pint glass.


Spencer photobomb!

Be careful when moving your black and tans, at least before photographing or serving. The bottom dropped out of this one when I picked it up.


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9 Responses to “How to Make a Black & Tan or Half & Half”

  1. TMae says:

    Yummmmm. I haven’t had a black and tan in ages. And it’s friggin nice as all get out today, so I might be tempted to make the hubs take a few hours off work so we can grab one on a patio somewhere. Because what else is St. Pat’s good for if not cutting out of work early to drink?


    Amy Reply:

    St Pat’s is the best for leaving work early and the 18th for calling in sick!


  2. I always wondered what a black and tan was!


    Amy Reply:

    Yay! If you like beer, they are super good.


  3. Suzanne says:

    Beer topped with beer? Sounds like a good drink to me. The ONLY two bars in our whole town are called the Harp & Dragon and Billy Wilson’s. I suspect a good black & tan would not be hard to locate.


    Amy Reply:

    Those do sound like good odds of a fab B&T. The other yummers option is a snakebite, which is guinness and cider.


  4. Alana says:

    I will be cheersing you with one tonite!


    Amy Reply:



  5. OttosMom says:

    Ooh you mention the snakebite in your comment above. That is the drink of all drinks! Happy St. P’s Day!


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