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Black and Tans: A Two-Toned Tipple
Cocktails aren't always about liquor. Read on to learn about one of the most popular beer cocktails—the black and tan.
Credit the British with the invention of the black and tan, a well-balanced concoction consisting of two beers—a pale ale and a porter or stout—that form two distinct layers. What keeps the two beers separate is a simple matter of density. Just as icebergs float in water because of the lower density of styrofoam, the less-dense stout doesn't mix with the pale ale. Instead, it floats near the top of the glass, providing a smooth layer of beer—the black—before you reach the layer of tan.
Keeping the liquids separate is a key element of black and tan. Density can vary with temperature, so in order to ensure that the beers don’t mix, both of them should be about the same temperature. Their volume also should be equal—one part stout to one part ale. Bartenders also rely on a special pouring spoon, which features a crook in the handle so it can hook onto the rim. This suspends the concave section of the spoon above the pint glass, allowing for a smoother, gentler cascade as the stout meets the ale.
- The most popular coupling is Guinness and Bass Pale Ale.
- Letting the liquids mix is a common variation. The best way to do this is to simply pour the stout before the ale.