Ah, the black & tan, the classic drink of Ireland! Right? Wrong. Contrary to popular belief, the black & tan is not commonly ordered in Ireland. Why? Well, we’ll get to that in a minute. First let’s figure out what exactly a black & tan is. A black & tan is simply a mix of pale ale, usually Bass, and a dark stout or porter, almost always a Guinness. Because Guinness is less dense than the ale, when poured very carefully it forms a dark layer on top of the light. Pouring a proper black & tan is an art, and there’s even a special spoon for getting it just right (available here). The spoon rests on the edge of the pint glass so the “hump” of the spoon faces upward. The Guinness is slowly poured over the spoon so that it does not disturb the Bass on the bottom and the result is, or should be, two distinct beer layers.
So why is this tasty and artistic beverage not often ordered in Ireland? In the 1920’s, Great Britain sent a new paramilitary force of World War I veterans to Ireland to suppress revolution. The soldiers were known as the “Black and Tans” and they were accused of brutality and atrocities, including the murder of a Catholic priest in 1921. To this day, an insulting nickname for the British in Ireland is “black and tan,” or simply “tan.”
Needless to say, a black & tan is not the most popular drink to request in an Irish pub. If you like the sound of tasty layered drink but don’t want to start off your day offending our Irish friends, why not ask for a Blacksmith, or “light and bitter,” a mixture of Smithwick’s (a red ale from Kilkenny) and Guinness. A few other options we suggest are the Belgian Brunette (Guinness over Stella Artois) and a new one called a Banana Split, double Chocolate Stout poured over Banana Beer. Magically delicious!