No I’m not talking about that Yuengling pre-mix version, although truth be told I’ve never tried it. I’m talking about the classic Guinness mix…the question though is mixed with what. Some say the Black and Tan is English named after the British soldiers who invaded Northern Ireland and typically uses a pale ale, likely Bass. While on the other hand, the Half and Half is referred to as the Irish version and uses a pale lager instead, typically Harp. Like any popular drink there are plenty of variations such as the Guinness and Sam Adams Cherry Wheat called a “Black and Cherry” which to me has a creamy almost ice cream taste to it. My favorite name is the “Black and Trash” which is Guinness, the black, along with the aptly named ‘Trash” which is the Budweiser. Yet truth be told this American Irish pub and St. Patrick’s Day favorite isn’t very Irish. The true Irish mix is a ‘Special’ which is a Smithwick’s topped off with a Guinness head, nothing more.
Confused? It’s OK it happens to the best of us especially when it comes to a complex popular drink such as this one. All in all the drink could be made with any mix of stout or porter beer but Guinness drought reigns supreme with this half Irish, at best, drink. That is if you don’t factor in the fact that Harp, Smithwicks and Guinness are all Irish beers, which so happen to be owned by the same company, Diageo.
Now that we have the who, what, when, and where pushed out of the way let’s tackle the important questions, the why and how.
The why is simple, beyond the taste which blending two beers is always fun in creating new flavors, but more so than that the presentation. The fact that you have to know what you are doing in order to serve up one of these delicious alluring drinks makes it a little more enticing than sloshing together two half bottles of whatever is in the fridge. Especially when you realize that typically serving you a beer takes little skill other than preventing too much head, this one takes a blending technique.
First, you fill your glass half way with your pale ale/lager, you want to make sure that you pour the glass slowly and to the side as to not form a large head on the beer. Once you have that completed you must use a spoon, or some other object, to break the Guinness (or other stout/porter) so that again you do not form a large head. As you slowly and steadily pour the Guinness it will begin to settle on top leaving a distinct layered look.
Cheers, it may take some practice but that is half the fun of it.
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