Create a Black and Tan Beer Cocktail




Black and Tans, (also known as a Half and Halfs) are an easy and tasty beer "cocktail".
Plus as an Instructables fan, you can optionally enjoy making your own custom Black and Tan Spoon to stock your bar and amaze your friends!

There are only two ingredients to a Black and Tan and the ingredients give this drink it's name.  The “black” part is a stout  beer (usually Guinness) and the “tan” part is an ale or lager (usually Bass Pale Ale or Harp lager), but in this case I used a local brew Summit Extra Pale Ale. Legend has it that the term Black and Tan resulted from a nickname, "the Black and Tans" for a British police force who fought the Irish Republican Army in the 20s. (So it might be best to use the name Half and Half if you are ordering this drink in Ireland)
Guinness Stout is the best for this project and actually the can works the best because Guinness is canned with a gadget that holds a mixture of carbon dioxide and nitrogen. You'll have a noticeably better stout head when poured from such a can. (Or even better, bring a keg of Guinness to the party!!)
Variations: a friend reminded me of two variations: She prefers the Black and Blue (Guinness and Blue Moon) or a Poor Man's (Guinness and a dry, hard cider)

Large tablespoon - You can buy custom Black and Tan spoons on the Guinness website, ebay or amazon. You can use a stock spoon, or you can fashion your own as I did. A spoon with a bend to it makes it easier to get just the right pour.
Pliers and or Vise grips - I found vise grips much easier for this project than just plain pliers. I suppose a hammer and vise could help too, but I did not need em.
Beer Glass - yeah well it doesn't make much sense to pour a Half and Half in a Red Solo Cup.

Shaping The Spoon - you should probably visit the Goodwill store for a couple of spoons rather than get in trouble for tweaking the good silverware  (I got about 8 packaged together for $2 at my local 2nd hand store)...(or this can also be done with an un-bent spoon).
When you shape of the spoon, your goal is to have the bend in the spoon at a spot such that the tip of the spoon is touching the other side of the glass. Just clamp the vise grips on the spoon and you should be able to bend the spoon easily with your hands. you may want to put a cloth on the vise grip teeth to avoid marring the spoon (unfortunately I didn't think of this tip in time)

The Pour -
Our goal here is to avoid mixing the two beers completely, we want to end up with the lighter ale on the bottom and the darker stout beer on the top (Of course if you mess up and the beers get all mixed together, no worries, it still tastes great :-) )

Tan - Just pour the lighter Ale first, about 3/4 up the glass. It's fine to have somewhat of a head on this portion of the pour as it even helps with the separation

Black - Insert the spoon so it rests against the glass and sits just above the Ale. Slowly...very slowly drizzle the stout across the spoon back so it stays on top of the tan portion of our drink. We found that if we poured the stout too quickly there was not a very clear definition between the Black and Tan portions. A thick head is appreciated on this drink.

Enjoy! Here's a video of my first student with her first try at making a Black and Tan. (A little messy, but the results were good!)

Thanks for checking out this Instructable and good luck on all your projects!

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    7 Discussions


    5 years ago on Introduction

    I will bow to the wisdom of the true Irishman, but shouldn't the mix be at least 50-50 (I find that unless the bartender if from Ireland you get the 70-30 split far too weak for me). I may be completely off on this one.

    Smithwicks is fine. I had thought Bass was frowned upon (not Irish), but tolerated due to the Guinness is on top.
    The spoon bend is a nice add on, my local store gave Guinness spoons away and Bass gave a brolly (sort of a tripod hanging in the glass) with 12 packs.

    I have also seen one that looks like a turtle and that is what it is called.

    I am forever asking where my Guinness spoon is, if my kids end up washing it it never gets back to the cabinet with the pint glasses.

    Thanks for reminding me, I will be having one tonight HAPPY NEW YEAR!

    1 reply

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks! A 50/50 mix is probably right...I've seen some directions that say 70-30 and was trying to ensure the dark didn't overtake the light for the pictures.
    I've seen the Guinness turtle (just check for it on eBay), very cool but at $10 I think I'll stick with the homemade style.
    I'm gonna have to look for spoons on packs in the liquor store though, that sounds like a good reason to buy.
    Happy New Year to you too! I'll be enjoying a Black and Tan tonight as well!!


    5 years ago on Introduction


    Lager is not a pale ale!

    Speaking from the home of the drink, the "tan" was originally draught bitter, and the layering effect is relatively modern - most pubs let the drinks mix as they were poured, because it was drunk for the flavour, not the appearance.

    2 replies

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks for the comments... i forgot to mention that the girl in the video had her first Guinness in the US and 2nd in Dublin, she says they taste better there ! Cheers!


    5 years ago

    Being an real life Irishman, barman and home brewer I can tell you the drink in this instructable looks absolutely delicious. By the way there is no Irish bitter. Red ale (Known as 'beer' to most Irish people) such as Smithwicks or Bass (say it like the fish) was all that was ever used with Guinness of course. Harp is produced only for export market and the few tourists that come here. I know of no person that would drink it unless held at gun point or there was no other beer available. So really the pale ale was an excellent choice and truly is a closer relation to the red ales that are popular here at home. But dude, the black and tans were no police force. The Royal Irish constabulary had next to zero control over them. A bit of reading on that matter would probably shock and disgust you. K rant over, time to make a drink like that one. :)

    1 reply

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks for the clarification, I agree, it's all about the taste and this EPA is tasty...but on the other hand, I now have more reasons to experiment with more combinations! :-)