Half and Half Beers Explained

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What is half & half beer? It’s all about layered beer, as in a lighter beer at the bottom and a darker drink at the top. Beers labelled “Half and Half” are healthy and enjoyable.

If you have never had a half-and-half beer mixture before, you are most certainly going to want to try one out by the end of this guide. This article will provide you with all the relevant information on what’s a half-and-half beer, along with the most popular half-and-half blends.

Table of Contents

What Is Half and Half Beer?

Although the half-and-half beer drink has other versions and names, the traditional version combines Guinness Draught Stout and another beer to create a dark beer and a lighter beer. Guinness Draught will always be the top part of Half and Half beers.

Why? Not all beers are brewed like Guinness. As you may already be aware, Guinness Stout is lighter than most brands and types of beers because it is produced with 75% nitrogen and less sugar than other beers. Guinness will float on top of other beers like oil does on water as a result of its makeup.

Historically, Harp pale lager served as the lighter component of the half-and-half, but Bass pale ale is also frequently used nowadays. You could discover that Bass pale ale is now simpler to locate.

One of the most popular pale ales in the world, Bass is renowned for its rich flavour. The half-and-half that results from the excellent pairing of bass and Guinness is nothing short of heavenly.

Alternate Half-and-Half Beer Names

Particularly in America, you might hear some people refer to the Half and Half beer drink as a “Black and Tan.” When Brits began combining several types of beer, the term was first used in the 17th century. The term “Black and Tan,” despite its association with Guinness, is not often used in Ireland. There is a rationale for this.

The Royal Irish Constabulary Special Reserve, a unit of British soldiers that were deployed to stifle Irish independence in the 1920s, is known for wearing uniforms in the colours of black and tan. Due to this, the majority of Irish pubs would prefer that you order a Half and Half rather than a Black and Tan.

How Strong Is a Half-and-Half Beer?

Are Half and Half beers more potent than standard beers? Actually, no. Remember that you are dividing two beers in half and combining them.

The ABV of your Half and Half should be the same as one serving of one beer, or roughly 4.5–5.0% ABV unless you are using a high-alcohol beer for the bottom portion. The ABV per serving is 4.7% if both Guinness Stout and Bass Pale Ale are used.

Popular Half-and-Half Beer Combinations

Guinness is highly adaptable and goes well with many different beers. Here are some of the most popular combos now being used across the world:

Traditional Half and Half Blend (Guinness Draught & Harp Lager)

As the name suggests, this mixture contains a 50/50 combination of Harp Lager and Guinness Draught. Pour half of the Harp Lager into the glass. After that, place a spoon on top of the glass and gently pour Guinness over it. This will maintain Guinness’ dominance and give it the recognisable Half & Half look.

The colour is ruby with a black core in light. This one has almost no head, however, it’s possible that some of that is because the Harp was completely flat when I opened it.

The aroma of roast is still the strongest while being restrained. Yeasty tones and some sweet grains/bread flavours are present also some subdued fruity flavours.

The roast flavour is still prominent, but a sweeter, grainier element has emerged which includes slight fruitiness and light mineral quality. The aftertaste is crisp with a little sweet finish – strong roast flavours with hints of honey-like sweetness.

Black & Tan (Guinness Draught & Bass Ale)

This blend, which is frequently mistaken for Half & Half, is made out of equal parts Bass Ale and Guinness Draught. Bass Ale is added to the glass first after which a spoon is placed on top and Guinness is slowly poured. This will keep the Guinness on top and maintain its signature Black & Tan look.

The colour is dark mahogany when illuminated. The interior of the ruby may be seen clearly, and shapes can be discerned with a very nice off-white head show. There is a good deal of carbonation rising from the sides.

With the darker Guinness standard, lighter fruit flits, mild herbal characteristics, biscuits and sweeter malt flavours, particularly caramel, are the hints.

The front is malty caramel with faint undertones of roast and mild bittering. This one seems to lose any coffee undertones from the Guinness, and the bass loses a lot of its brassy bright overtones. The hoppy undertones of herbal and floral flavour provide a lightly harsh aftertaste, finishing quickly with mineral flavour in the mouth.

If you wish to learn more about malt, visit our Difference Between Malt Liquor and Beer guide!

Chocolate Covered Cherry aka Black & Cherry (Guinness Draught & Sam Adams Cherry Wheat)

Half Guinness Draught and half Sam Adams Cherry Wheat are used in this combination. When blended, the colour is a deep reddish-brown with garnet streaks lacing the corners in ideal lighting. The Head is slightly paler, and you can see carbonation streaming, which enhances the foam’s low-creamy appearance.

Cherry forward, but less natural than anticipated. Even after allowing it to warm up, the cherry still takes centre stage. It somehow has an air of cherry soda about it. Even though the cherries were actual Michigan cherries, the cherry flavour seems terribly manufactured.

The cherry definitely detracts from the roast aspects, albeit there is a hint of grainy wheat flavour. It has a very faintly bitter finish with a taste of the roast that Guinness leaves behind.

Black Castle (Guinness Draught & Newcastle Brown Ale)

Half of this mixture is Guinness Draught and half is Newcastle Brown Ale. When held up to bright light, the colour is garnet. It has a tiny, sturdy head that is tan and off-white.

This mixture has maltiness with a caramel flavour and mild fruit. The Guinness’s roasted undertones combine perfectly with the low herbals that resemble hay with hints of hops. The front has a little sweetness to it. The roast and big caramel are said to complement one another very well.

Blacksmith (Guinness Draught & Smithwick’s Premium Irish Ale)

This mixture has maltiness with a caramel flavour and mild fruit. The Guinness’s roasted undertones combine perfectly with the low herbals that resemble hay with hints of hops. The front has a little sweetness to it. The roast and big caramel are said to complement one another very well.

The initial flavour is sweet and malty, followed by a mid-palate blending of caramel and a deeper roast. With the caramel flavour continuing through the end and the roaster attributes just hinting at their former prominent position, the Smithwick appears to prefer the rains to the Guinness in this instance.

Midnight In The Garden (Guinness Draught & Hoegaarden)

Half Guinness Draught and half Hoegaarden White Ale make up this concoction. if properly poured, has a very distinctive appearance. A bone-white head finger perched over the darkened beer creates a striking contrast. decent retention. The colour is rich, deep amber in the light. Carbonation is moderately apparent.

Cloves, bananas, and other aromatic fragrances can be detected together with the scent of Belgian yeast. Honey stings, sweet graininess, low roast, and chocolate flavours.

You can experience citrus flavours that wonderfully brighten the drink while the chocolate comes through more clearly. There are some whispers of bananas going on, which go well with the chocolate. The roast malts just slightly slow the finish, which is brief but has a unique aftertaste with overtones of spice that is a little bit cocoa-like.

How to Pour a Half-and-Half Beer?

Guinness stout, Bass pale ale, and quality drinking glasses are required to produce a traditional half-and-half beer. Several glassware designs are suggested: a shaker pint, a nonic pint, an English tulip pint, or a pint of Guinness.

When you have the right glass at hand and both beers, follow these steps:

Time needed: 2 minutes

How to Pour a Half-and-Half Beer

  1. Pour ale

    Start by holding your glass at about a 45-degree angle and filling it halfway with your lighter-coloured pale ale.

  2. Use a spoon to pour Guinness

    Grab a spoon and with the back of the spoon facing you, start to gently pour the Guinness over the spoon.

  3. Enjoy your half-and-half

    The Guinness beer should then float on top of the Bass pale ale, creating your half-and-half beer ready to be enjoyed.

The trick is to pour steadily and gradually, allowing the stout to seep down into the glass. It may take some practice to do this. If you pour the beer too rapidly, it will run down the spoon’s handle and into your hand.

This video gives you an idea of the pouring process:

Using a Layering Tool

The drawback of making a half-and-half with a spoon is that the layers are not always clearly separated. Instead, you could pick up a cocktail layering tool if you want a better-layered appearance.

The layering device features teeny holes through which the Guinness flows and resembles a juicer or sieve in appearance. The same procedure is followed: Half-fill your pint glass with Bass pale ale.

The layering tool is then taken and placed on top of the glass. It ought to be snug. Pour the Guinness slowly and deliberately, just like you would with a spoon. The pint gradually fills with stout. Remove the stacking tool after the glass is full.

If your hand is not particularly steady, you should use the layering tool. However, your half-and-half will taste the same no matter which method you use.

Curious about What Is Beer Made Of? Or the differences between Ale vs Lager vs Beer? Visit our guides!

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

What is half and half beer?

A Half and Half beer is a mixture between a dark-coloured stout (usually Guinness) and a pale ale or lager. Since Guinness is brewed with nitrogen, it has lower specific gravity than most beers and floats. However, there are a number of variations to the Half and Half that use all kinds of beer.

What is an Irish half and half?

An Irish Half and Half is the traditional beer cocktail that takes half a Guinness Draught stout and Harp pale lager.

How do you drink Half and Half beer?

There is no special way to drink a Half and Half beer. Consume as you normally would—responsibly. When you tip the pint to take a sip, the beers merge together on your tongue, so you get the full spectrum of flavour from each.

By Tickety Brew

Ivor Ardghal : Brewer and Writer at Tickety Brew