The Black and Tan is a beer cocktail that is popular in America and Europe, and it has quite a history behind it. But before you decide to order one at an Irish pub, there are a few things you should know.
A Black and Tan is a combination of Guinness and Bass ale that is layered in a glass. You start out by pouring a layer of ale into the bottom half of the glass to create a sturdy head, and then you follow that with a layer of Guinness over an inverted spoon to make sure that the beer doesn't plunge all at once.
There is actually a special Black and Tan spoon that you can use. It is bent in the middle and makes the Guinness easier to pour, since the spoon balances on the edge of the pint glass.
The layering of Guinness on top is possible because of the drink's lower specific gravity, which makes it the lighter beer despite its stoutness. This keeps the two beers from mixing.
You can use other pale ales or lagers in a Black and Tan, but Bass is the traditional option.
Ordering a Black and Tan in Ireland is a huge no-no because the term is considered offensive in that part of the world. The name was first used in the American magazine Puck in 1881 as a reference to the drink's color. But the term has a completely different meaning for Irish citizens.
During the Irish independence movement of 1920 and 1921, the British Parliament created a special force to suppress the Irish Republican Army (IRA)'s guerrilla war. The Irish called the force's members the Blacks and Tans because of their mismatched khaki military trousers and dark police uniform shirts.
The army was comprised mostly of former World War I servicemen, but it wasn't simply a counterforce to the IRA. The Black and Tans used horrifying tactics, like burning down entire towns and slaughtering civilians. One of their most infamous acts was killing 12 civilians at a soccer match in Dublin. They also torched 20 homes in Balbriggan, a town in the northern part of Ireland, and the soldiers looted pubs and burned down a factory, killing two men in the process.
Sadly, about 20 percent of the force was made up of Irish citizens.
Because of this mistreatment, the term 'Black and Tan' is an insult in Ireland, and it would be culturally insensitive to use it there.
So, how should you order a Black and Tan when you are in an Irish pub? Simply ask for a Half and Half.