Which types of beer are commonly used to create half-and-half beers?

half-and-half beer

In frequent recipes are only beers of contrasting colours being used (like pilsener vs porter or pale lager vs stout) or other combinations are being commonly used too? What are some of the most popular recipes?

9 Answers 9


In a Half and Half (also known as a "Black and Tan" in certain locations), the primary factor will be the density of the two beers -- one beer must be of a lesser density than the other to stay afloat. Contrasting colors are used for visual effect; otherwise, how might you know one was floating?

Common recipes involve floating the less dense Guinness over a Bass, or a Guinness over a Harp Lager. Its Guinness' particular light density that makes it a good candidate for so many half-and-half style recipes.

  • 1
    I know this is old but, no one else has mentioned it... it's bad practice to call it a Black and Tan especially in an Irish bar. They're fine to drink just, when ordering, specify the types of beer, like 'half Guinness, half Bass'. While the term Black and Tan predates this by a little bit, there's an association between Black and Tans and a vicious paramilitary group in Ireland. Since we're using Irish beers, it's best to be respectful. I know a lot of bars list it as a Black and Tan, it's because they don't know any better.
    – Montijello
    Commented Jun 30, 2020 at 15:54

A half and half is a Guinness with Harp.

This style of beer combination is accomplished by using a dense beer on the bottom followed by a beer of lesser density on the top (usually poured over a spoon to ensure that it doesn't sink through).

Essentially it is usually an ale or lager underneath a stout. Some popular versions and combinations include

  • The Trinity
    Guinness, Smithwicks, Harp
  • Blacksmith
    Guinness & Smithwick’s Irish Ale
  • Black & Black
    Guinness & Guinness Stout
  • Black Pyramid
    Guinness & Pyramid
  • Black & Gold
    Guinness & Magner’s Cider
  • Black & Red
    Guinness & Killian’s Irish Red
  • Black & Sam
    Guinness & Sam Adams
  • Black & Fire
    Guinness & Firestone
  • Black Coffee
    Guinness & Black Butte Porter
  • Eclipse
    Guinness & Blue Moon
  • Black Castle
    Guinness & Newcastle
  • Black on Blonde
    Guinness & Stella Artois
  • Black Tire
    Guinness & Fat Tire
  • Black Torpedo
    Guinness & Sierra Nevada
  • Dark & Steamy
    Guinness & Anchor Steam
  • Irish American
    Guinness & Budweiser
  • The Noogie
    Guinness & Pabst Blue Ribbon
  • Half & Half
    Guinness & Harp
  • Black & Tan
    Guinness & Bass
  • San Patricios
    Guinness & Corona
  • 1
    Rich Man's Black Velvet: Guinness and Champagne Commented Sep 23, 2015 at 11:34

I think it all depends on your personal preference. There are many different combinations out there such as the Black and Tan, but some companies have also started coming out with six packs that they intend for you to mix. Shock Top, for example, released a six pack that featured their Chocolate Wheat and their Belgium White.

What I would do is think of a dark beer you enjoy and then a lighter (but still flavorful beer) that you like and just experiment with mixing them. In my case I would choose to mix Left Hand Milk Stout and a Kentucky Kolsch. Let me know what you try! I am curious!


Personally when creating a "Half and Half", Guiness is the only constant. The other beer is usually something only lighter in color. Wheat beers have an interesting flavor. IPA's have their bitterness cut when made into a Half and Half.

Beyond that, I will sometimes select the beer so that the drink gets an awesome name:

  • Black and Blue - Guiness w/ Labatt Blue
  • Black Sunset - Guiness w/ Leinie's Sunset Wheat
  • Black Cow - Guiness w/ New Glarus Spotted Cow

At our local pub the Eclipse (Guinness & Blue Moon) is also referred to as a Dark Side of the Moon

  • Black Raspberry - Guinness w/ Lindemans Raspberry Frambois
  • Black Death - Guinness w/ Black Widow Cider

Guinness isn't the only dark beer to layer with. Porters can be used to as a bottom layer to give you a dark-on-bottom drink. Check it all out at The Perfect Black and Tan.


It is more than color. You need the other beer to have a different density from Guinness, at least if you want it to stay separated for any length of time. And be careful which Guinness you use because there are a number of them out there with different "strengths". If the densities are too close, they'll mix together.

A good starting point in selecting interesting combinations is to look at the densities across different styles. Pick two that are widely different and find bottles of each. For instance, if you take a bottle of a kriek (red-looking fruit lambic), it would probably float nicely on most other beers, but you'd want to pick a nice, dark beer to show off the contrast (plus, if you used a kriek (cherry) or frambois (raspberry), pairing it with a porter or stout that has nice chocolate tones would taste very nice). Likewise, just about anything would float on a bock or a strong scotch ale like a "wee heavy".

  • Another trick to do is make sure the denser beer, the one you pour first, is nice and cold. For the top beer, have it at room temperature or cellar temperature and that will help keep them separated when pouring.
    – Dave
    Commented Nov 23, 2015 at 16:01
  • I'm sorry if this sounds silly but it's not meant to be. In terms of drinking the half-and-half, would you use a straw? Besides temperature differences to keep the bears seperate what else could you do (when drinking) to drink half and half and not simply a mixture of 2 bears. I thought of making this comment a question of it's. If I get an answer perhaps I will. Commented Oct 6, 2016 at 13:47
  • It is all a matter of preference. If you want to be fun, you could use a straw and drink the bottom beer first. The layered look is done as much for aesthetics as anything else. I tip them to my mouth as usual, maybe sometimes trying to take care not to disturb it too much, but it really starts to mix once you've brought it to your mouth and back. Check out this page for some excellent examples of layered beers (even 3 layers).
    – Dave
    Commented Oct 7, 2016 at 21:24

I just asked for a half and half but this place didn't have Guiness so the bartender told me to try it with Murphy's and Harp instead. Total fail. The densities were too similar and one mixed into the other. Not awful flavor just not a Black and Tan.


Guinness and Harp - a Half & Half

Guinness and Ale - Bass, Smithwick's, or John Courage is a Black and Tan.

The thought of attempting to properly pour either using lite beer is deplorable!

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