Wilmington is a beer city! Walk down any street in Wilmington and you are sure to run into into an Irish or British pub or an old colonial tavern for that matter. Wilmington is full of micro-breweries, gastro-pubs, bars and taverns where you can get a pint of your favorite brew. Delaware is also the home of the famous Dogfish Head brewery. A favorite around St. Patrick’s Day and indeed March and April is Guinness, Bass, Harp, Killians, and the famous Black and Tan layered beer.
So just what is a Black and Tan?
A Black and Tan is a layered drink made by layering Guinness stout and Harp lager. If you walk into any Irish pub or tavern in Wilmington, you can order either a Guinness or a Harp. Very few pubs will be able to create this special Irish beer elixir correctly. Both Kildare’s and Catherine Rooney’s in Wilmington will serve this beer mixture, although they call it a layered beer instead of by its controversial name. Do not even try to order a “Black and Tan” in Ireland; you may find yourself tossed out on your ear.
A little history…
The drink gets its name from two sources. First, the name of “Black and Tan” had its connection with the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) in the 1920s. The English police force in Ireland initiated a massive recruitment for men willing to face a rough and dangerous task as they saw it. That task was to suppress the Irish rebels. The recruits were mainly unemployed WWI veterans who worked for little pay. They became the occupation army in Ireland. Since there were not enough RIC uniforms for the new recruits, they wore makeshift uniforms of khaki tunics with dark green pants or dark green tunics or khaki pants, black leather belts and boots. Some men had military hats, other had civilian hats while still others did not; however, this combination colors led the group’s name of the “Black and Tans” to become well-known. They also had the legendary reputation for cruelty toward the Irish. This negative connotation to the name still brings out bad vibes. Second, the name comes from a famous pack of black and brown hounds used for foxhunting in Ireland. The hunting breed of Kerry beagles or terriers are commonly called “Black and Tans”. The black and brown coonhound, also called “Black and Tans”, can be found in the US.
How to create the layered beer. . .
Whether you call it a layered beer or “Black and Tan”, the drink has a unique taste that is well worth giving it a try. To make the drink at home you will need:
A pint glass, a spoon (a flat, wide tablespoon will work, but for better results use an official Black and Tan spoon, available through the Guinness online web store).
For the black top: One can of cold Guinness Draught. (It must be the can, which employs nitrogen gas for carbonation.)
For the tan bottom: One bottle of your favorite pale ale or lager, such as Bass or Harp.
1. Tilt glass slightly and fill about half full with pale ale. You’re aiming for a decent head at the top of the glass.
2. Place the spoon over the mouth of the glass. Open the Guinness, and decant slowly, steadily over the top of the spoon. Top off the pint with a half-inch head.
3. Serve. Do not worry if you mess up; practice is half the fun.