Black and Tan Cocktail

By Timo Torner / Last updated on March 20, 2023

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

The Black & Tan is a stunning beer cocktail layered with two different types of beer. One layer is a dark Stout or Porter beer, the other a lighter and bright Lager or Pale Ale.

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. And also, it is a great option when you can't decide on one beer.

Guinness Stout and Bass Ale are 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 it is still possible to color-wise tell them apart and create two separate layers.

Black and Tan layers

For the latter, the density of Lager or Ale has to be heavy enough to stay at the bottom. This way, the usually lighter Stout or Porter beer can float on top, creating the iconic look of a Black & Tan.

Why is it called like that?

The so-called Black and Tan cocktail is a beer cocktail made from Guinness Stout and Bass Ale. When making the cocktail, you need to carefully and slowly layer the two beers.

Bass Ale is poured into the glass first, followed by Guinness. To prevent the two layers from blending, you can use a spoon or bar spoon when gently filling in the Guinness Stout.

The reason why it's also called a Half and Half

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

Commonly "three threads" and "five threads" were consumed back then. 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. 

Black and Tan mixed beer drink Guinness and Bass Ale

But as with other things, these beer cocktails evolved into more fancy creations. One of them is 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.

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.

What you need to make the drink

A proper Black and Tan cocktail is served in a chilled Pint glass which holds 16 ounces.

Guinness Beer in pint glass

Then, you need 8 ounces of Bass Ale or another Lager/Pale Ale and another 8 ounces of Guinness or another Stout/Porter beer. Finally, using a spoon or bar spoon helps to float the Stout on top of the Ale.

Recommended Black & Tan combinations

The classic combination is Irish Guinness Stout and English Bass Ale. However, there are quite 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)
Black and Tan beer cocktail

Black and Tan

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



  • 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.
  • Float Guinness on top by pouring it gently over the back of a spoon or bar spoon.


Serving: 16oz | Calories: 166kcal | Carbohydrates: 15.36g | Protein: 1.54g | Sugar: 1.02g
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!


Why is Black and Tan drink offensive?

Black and Tan is not only the name of a drink but also the name of a violent Reserve Force sent by Britain to Ireland in the 1920s.

What drink is called a Black and Tan?

The Black and Tan is a drink made of two beers, Guinness for the black color and Bass Ale for the tan color. The two beers are layered so you can clearly see the colors separated.

What's the difference between a Half and Half and a Black and Tan?

Basically, both terms refer to the same drink. In Ireland, you don't order a Black & Tan. The Irish associate that with a violent Reserve Force that once was sent to Ireland. Instead, you order a Half & Half to get yourself a Guinness layered on top of a Harp Lager.

How strong is a Black and Tan?

As this drink is a combination of two beers, accordingly, the ABV is relatively low. The standard mix of Guinness and Bass Ale clocks in at 4.7% ABV.

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