Black and Tan Cocktail Recipe

By Timo Torner / Last updated on July 21, 2023

The Black and Tan is a layered beer cocktail consisting of two different types of beers in a pint glass.
Black and Tan beer cocktail

One layer is a dark Stout or Porter beer, the other a lighter and bright Lager or Pale Ale. This combination makes the Black & Tan a stunning-looking, layered beer cocktail. 

A remarkable characteristic of the Black and Tan is the ability to maintain the individual taste of each beer while still creating a whole new blend. It is a great option when you cannot decide on one beer.

Quick Facts Black and Tan Beer

  • Method: built in glass
  • Flavor profile: slightly bitter & malty
  • How to serve it: neat
  • Best glassware: pint glass
  • Alcohol content: ~ 4.7% ABV, 18 grams of alcohol per serving

The layering only works when the density of Lager or Ale is heavy enough to stay at the bottom, so the (usually lighter) Stout or Porter beer can float on top to create the iconic look of a Black & Tan.

Black and Tan beer cocktail

Black and Tan Recipe

A pretty beer cocktail typically made with Guinness Stout and Bass Ale.
Prep Time: 3 minutes
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: British
Keyword: Beer, Guinness
Servings: 1
Calories: 166kcal
Cost: $1.90


  • 1 Bar spoon


  • 8 oz Guinness Stout
  • 8 oz Bass Ale


  • Fill your chilled pint glass with 8oz of Bass Ale or a Pale Ale of your choice.
    8 oz Bass Ale
  • Float Guinness on top by pouring it gently over the back of a spoon or bar spoon.
    8 oz Guinness Stout


Serving: 16ozCalories: 166kcalCarbohydrates: 15.36gProtein: 1.54gSugar: 1.02g
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Standard Ingredients

Guinness Stout and Bass Ale is the classic combination for a Black and Tan. However, you can replace each part of this drink with one of your favorite beers. At least, as long as they have different densities and a different colors so you can create two layers.

A proper Black and Tan cocktail is served in a chilled Pint glass, holding 16 ounces. You first add 8 ounces of Bass Ale or another Lager/Pale Ale and another 8 ounces of Guinness or another Stout/Porter beer. 

Tips to Create the Layers

The best and easiest way to get the two layers right is to use a spoon or bar spoon to float the Stout on top of the Ale. This practice helps to soften the impact of the Stout hitting the Ale and prevents the two components from mixing.

If you pour the Stout in directly and with more force, the surface tension of the Ale breaks, and both beers mix. In that case, you end up with a murky beer blend instead of two layers.

Other popular Black & Tan Combinations

The classic combination is the mentioned Irish Guinness Stout and English Bass Ale. However, there are some other popular combinations that sometimes go under their own name:

Here are some recommended Black & Tan variations to try:

  • Guinness & Harp Lager (Half and Half)
  • Murphy’s & Redhook (Snapper)
  • Guinness & Champagne (Black Velvet)
  • Guinness & Hard Cider (Snakebite)
  • Guinness & Sam Adams Lager (Patriot)

Why that name?

The name Black and Tan refers to the colors of the beer cocktail. You pour theBass Ale into the glass firs, which represents the "Tan", followed by Guinness, representing the "Black".

The term Black and Tan is also associated with the Royal Irish Constabulary Force, sent to Ireland in the 1920s during the Irish War of Independence. But if you now think the drink got its name from these troops, you're mistaken. 

Origin of the Black and Tan

The roots of the Black and Tan cocktail most likely lie in England. As early as the 1700s, pub, and bar owners regularly combined different types of beers into one drink.

Commonly "three threads" and "five threads" went over the counter back the. Each of these threads stands for one type of beer. However, those mixtures were not done to get a better-tasting drink.

This beer mix was a way to prevent paying higher taxes. By combining a high-taxed strong beer with a lower-taxed one, the brewers could make a small additional profit.  

Eventually, these beer cocktails evolved into more fancy creations. -One of them the Black and Tan cocktail. 

According to the English Oxford Dictionary, the first time a Black and Tan popped up in written form was in 1881. Soon afterward, ordering a Black and Tan became quite popular in the United States and in England.

Why it's also called a Half and Half

In Ireland, though, this beer drink sells under a completely different name. Here, the Black and Tan was sold under the name Half and Half. -So, what refers to a low-fat cream in the US, will get you a beer cocktail in Ireland.

That is because the term Black and Tan is associated with the Royal Irish Constabulary Force. These special troops were sent to Ireland in the 1920s during the Irish War of Independence.  

This maneuver resulted in various violent outbreaks between the forces and the Irish people. Hence, the name evokes very negative associations with the Irish public and is no good fit for a drink.

Black and Tan mixed beer drink Guinness and Bass Ale


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