A Beginner's Guide to Blending Guinness With Other Beers

The 14 best (and worst) variations on a black and tan

March 17, 2020 5:55 am
Black and Tan
Everything beer you need for St Patrick's Day
Steven Guzzardi/Flickr Creative Commons

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Even though you’re spending at home this year (seriously, you better be), you can still enjoy the finer parts of the world’s favorite Irish holiday.

Such as a Guinness. And more interestingly, a Guinness mixed with another beer.

In other times and in most bars, this would be a half-Guinness, half-Bass concotion called a Black and Tan … with the ale poured in first and the surprisingly lighter Guinness layered on top, usually poured over the underside of a spoon (here’s the science behind why the “darker” beer is on top). 

As Emily Bell at VinePair noted a few years ago, “Black and Tan was the nickname given to the British paramilitary force formed to suppress the Irish independence movement in 1920 and 1921,” and they were not nice people.

Whatever you call it — a Half and Half is a good alternate name (but specify Bass if you want it) — it’s a damn fine drink. And it proves the versatility of Guinness, one of the few beers that mixes well with multiple styles of other brew.

So if you have a few bottles lying about, why not use today to test out a few non-B&T varieties. Hat tip to The Spruce Eats, Rugged Fellows Guide, Kegerator and The Perfect Black and Tan (which sells the barspoon you should be using) for the intel.

Our picks …

For ease

Most people know the Half-and-Half as Guinness on top of Harp, the other pale ale you’re likely to encounter in any Irish bar. In lieu of Bass or Harp, you can pour a Guinness over Smithwick’s red ale to create a Blacksmith. Basically, whatever Irish ale you have lying around, use it.

For America

The Irish American is Guinness on top of Miller or Bud. But why? (Also apparently known as a “Black and Trash.”)

For Guinness nerds

A Black & Smooth utilizes the Guinness-made Kilkenny Cream Ale, and a Black Satin is Guinness over Guinness Black Lager.

For non-beer drinkers

A Black and Gold is hard cider and Guinness (and it’s not a Snakebite, which is lager and cider). There’s also a Black Velvet, which is a Guinness on top of Champagne or sparkling wine.

For the morning after …

The Black Eye is Guinness and Two Brothers Red Eye Coffee Porter, and Chocolate-Covered Banana Bread is Guinness on top of Wells Banana Bread Beer.

For definitely trying

The Innis & Guinness is Guinness on top of Innis & Gunn (and personally, we’d hope that’d be the barrel-aged I&Gs). A Black Tire is Guinness over New Belgium Brewery’s eminently tasty Fat Tire. And hey, you can also get crazy and layer three beers.

For definitely not trying

The Black 8 is Guinness over Olde English 800. The Lando Calrissian is also malt liquor, but substitutes Colt 45.


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