The Correct Way To Pour A Black And Tan

Countless cocktails are made to look visually appealing with extra toppings, ingredients, and decorations, but some mixed drinks look great all on their own. The classic black and tan is one such cocktail, known for its eye-catching layers that just barely blend into one another. Also known as a half and half, the beer cocktail's top layer, if poured correctly, will float effortlessly on the other, split cleanly in the middle of the glass. The goal is to keep the two beers separated, even as you reach the final gulp. The traditional varieties used in this drink are a pale ale (usually a Bass) for the hoppy base and a stout (generally Guinness) on top.

When pouring this drink at home, getting the layers to balance just right may seem like a bit of a challenge. Thankfully, the secret boils down to science rather than some fancy bartending trick. While you might assume that a light-colored ale is also lighter in density than a darker Guinness, the opposite is true. Like most stouts, Guinness generally has a low density, meaning it contains fewer sugars than a typical pale ale. This is how you can achieve that famous "floating" effect, but you may also need to pour the Guinness over an upside-down spoon to make sure the magic happens.

Pour the Guinness over a spoon for gentle layering

Two important factors can turn a mediocre half and half into a great one. Normally, you wouldn't want too much head to form after pouring a beer, but this two-toned libation needs a foamy center at least three fingers tall so the Guinness doesn't blend into the pale ale below. You can easily accomplish this by quickly pouring the pale ale straight into the glass. When it's time to float the darker stout on top of the foamy barrier, a spoon is a beer mixer's best friend. Just insert the utensil upside down into the glass and gently pour the Guinness over it. This simple trick allows the beer to gently waterfall on top of the pale ale instead of breaking the middle barrier, creating an ideal beer cocktail.

Although this is an easy drink to mix at home, taking the time to complete that extra step with care is always worth it. Beer lovers might feel that classic cocktails like these deserve the traditional treatment, and thus might prefer to stick with the English-style Bass Pale Ale. Not all pale ale and stout combinations will work as well as others, but it's worth the experimentation. If you'd rather try one made by a pro, it's important to note that in certain parts of the world, this drink is exclusively referred to as a half and half.

Why this drink is known as a half and half in Ireland

Since the world-famous Guinness beer originated in Ireland, you might think that barkeeps throughout the country are proud to mix this drink, but in fact, the opposite is true. While Americans and beer connoisseurs around the world will recognize this drink as a black and tan, this title is highly controversial in Ireland and is considered offensive. There, "half and half" is the preferred name for this beer cocktail.

The reason why dates back to the 1920 Irish War of Independence, in which the British government tasked English soldiers with putting a stop to the Irish uprising. These paramilitary soldiers were no strangers to the brutalities of war, as most of them had previously fought in the trenches during World War I. Due to their uniform's colors, the Irish nicknamed them "black and tans." During the war, this British force was known to inflict extreme and unnecessary violence upon the Irish Republican Army, and their actions went unchecked by police.

From this dark history alone, it's understandable why a simple nickname for a drink would put a sour taste in Irish people's mouths. So, if you're ever traveling across the lush hills of the Emerald Isle and stop for a pint, be sure to refer to this drink as a half and half.