Black and Tan: The Beer That Serves All

Not extremely thrilled about drinking a full dark stout? Perhaps ales are tasty but you get bored with them quickly? What about a black and tan to suit your needs?

A black and tan is a beer blend of pale ale (or a pale lager if ale isn’t available) with a stout or porter floating on top of it. Think of it like a mixed ice cream without the ice…or cream but with alcohol and awesome.

The blend is said to be birthed in Britain and Ireland but it doesn’t seem to be a popular consumed beverage in Ireland. It does offer a variety for those that like something a bit different and any bar in the United States knows how to make one. I’ve had them in New England, Palm Springs and New Orleans and they always seem to be created with a Bass Ale on the bottom and a Guinness Draught on the top although that’s not a strict rule to follow.

The problem I have with a good black and tan is making them at home can be very difficult. Sure, you can mix them in some ratio and drink but to get a nice looking black and tan usually requires the two beers to be from draft to allow them to layer properly without mixing or falling into each other. You can work the magic by pouring the ale and slowly draining a Guinness into it with a spoon but it requires some patience.

The Guinness is “layered” on top of the ale, taking advantage of the fact that Guinness is carbonated (nitrogenated) with a (lighter gas) mixture of nitrogen (N2 28g/mole) and carbon dioxide (CO2 44g/mole), versus Bass being carbonated with only CO2. (wikipedia)

You can also choose to get a pre-created beer like a D.G. Yuengling & Son Black and Tan. This will be 60% Dark-Brewed porter and 40% Yuengling Premium Beer. This Pennsylvania based brew company has it’s roots in Germany which can be told from the name along. The word Jüngling (spelled without the ü as ‘ue’) means ‘lad’ in German (or youth or youngling) but is pronounced “Ying-Ling” for some odd reason.

The only brewed black and tan I’ve ever had the chance of experience was a Saranac Black and Tan. It presents you with the flavors you’d expect from a blend of ale and an Irish stout but it doesn’t have the same style or taste as a layered black and tan. When I drink a true black and tan I drink most of the darker beer first and finish with the ale.

In Britain mixing a Guinness with another beer may give you odd glances or some local chatter. This is probably our Americanized version of a black and tan. Their loss is our gain, I’ve had no issues ordering up a black and tan at the local bars, here is a way to do it at home if you’re so inclined:

To prepare a Black and Tan in the American way, first fill a glass halfway with the ale, then add the Guinness Draught (from the can, bottle, or tap). The top layer is best poured slowly over an upside-down tablespoon placed over the glass to avoid splashing and mixing the layers. A specially designed black-and-tan spoon is bent in the middle so that it can balance on the edge of the pint-glass for easier pouring (wikipedia).

I’m going to have to try the upside-down tablespoon trick, that might make life easier. In any case, I highly suggest you try this tasty beer recipe. It’s hard to find a true beer recipe given most beers are supposed to be drank by themselves (aside from the optional “car bomb” or other beer-cocktail hybrid).



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