Is it black and tan or half and half?

Answered by Kyle Floyd

As a sommelier and brewer, I'd like to shed some light on the debate between the terms “black and tan” and “half and half.” While the term “black and tan” is commonly used in Britain to describe a mixture of two beers, it's important to note that in Ireland, the name is not used in the same way. Instead, the drink is referred to as a “half and half.”

The origins of the term “black and tan” can be traced back to 1889 in Britain, where it was used to describe a drink made by mixing a dark , typically a or porter, with a lighter beer, often a pale or . The resulting combination would have a layered appearance, with the darker beer floating on top of the lighter one.

However, in Ireland, the term “black and tan” has a completely different meaning and is associated with a historical context that is deeply sensitive. The Black and Tans were a British paramilitary force deployed to Ireland during the War of Independence in the early 20th century. They were notorious for their brutality and acts of violence against Irish civilians.

Given this historical context, using the term “black and tan” to describe a drink in Ireland can be seen as insensitive and offensive. As a result, the drink is commonly referred to as a “half and half” in Irish pubs.

The “half and half” is a popular drink in Ireland, particularly in Dublin. It is typically made by pouring equal parts of a dark beer, such as Guinness, and a light beer, often Harp or Smithwick's, into a pint glass. The two beers mix together to create a visually appealing combination of colors, with the dark beer lending its rich flavors to the lighter one.

Having spent some time in Ireland myself, I can attest to the fact that ordering a “black and tan” instead of a “half and half” in an Irish pub may raise some eyebrows and potentially lead to misunderstandings. It's important to be aware of the cultural sensitivities surrounding the term and to use the appropriate terminology when ordering or discussing this particular drink in Ireland.

While “black and tan” may be the commonly used term in Britain to describe a mixture of two beers, in Ireland, the term “half and half” is preferred due to its historical and cultural significance. It's always important to be respectful and sensitive to the traditions and customs of the places we visit and the drinks we enjoy.