Half and Half Beer: Enjoy the Best of Two Beers in a Single Drink

Half and half beer combinationHalf and half beer is what completes Saint Patrick’s day. The stunning appeal and remarkable taste of half and half beer combinations never fail to satisfy beer enthusiasts. If you don’t want to restrict this tasteful beer cocktail to special events, we have the perfect recipe for you.

Today, we will share a few tips on making the perfect glass of half and half beer at home.

What Is a Half and Half Beer?

A half and half beer is a combination of two different types of beer. The recipe usually consists of Guinness (Stout) and a pale ale – mixed.

Owing to the viscosity of the two alcoholic beverages, they do not blend right away. In fact, they layer up on top of each other. The distinct shade of the individual beers divides the cocktail into two distinct halves and that’s where it gets the name from.

– How Does It Taste?

The taste of this layered beer depends on the two constituent beers. That’s why a lot of people use Guinness for this recipe. Its perfectly sweet flavor with hints of chocolate makes the cocktail delicious. You can also adjust the strength of the drink by experimenting with the ales and stouts.

How To Make a Half and Half Beer at Home

You don’t always have to rely on your local bar to drink your favorite half and half beer. Here is a quick recipe to pour a half and half beer for yourself right at home:

  • Grab a glass and your two favorite beers from the nearest store. Whatever brand you pick, make sure you buy a pale ale and a stout.
  • First, pour the pale ale into the glass. Make sure you do this as fast as possible to form a large foam head. The larger the layer of foam, the better it will support the second layer of beer.
  • Place a large spoon, preferably a soup spoon, on the glass that balances perfectly across the edge. Turn it upside down and slightly lower the tip against the inner edge of the glass.
  • Then, pour the second layer of beer. As you pour the stout, slowly pull up the spoon so that it doesn’t touch the layer beneath.
  • Once you have a thick layer of stout, you can simply remove the spoon and pour the remaining beer directly into the cocktail.
  • Always pour the stout directly at the center of the glass so that the force of the beer is evenly balanced throughout the mix. Otherwise, an imbalanced force can disrupt the separation point and cause the pale ale and stout to mix.
  • Make sure you do not let the drink sit around for too long. If it’s left untouched for a while, the two beers might start to mix.

Placing a spoon is optional, but it helps you add the second layer gradually without disturbing the first layer of pale ale. A lot of people also like to bend the spoon head to 90 degrees so that it perfectly fits inside the glass and stands perpendicular to the beer.

– The No-Spoon Method

If you do not have a spoon at hand while pouring a half and half beer, here is what you can do to ensure that the first layer remains intact.

  • Hold your glass at a 45-degree angle and slowly pour the first layer of beer.
  • Since the foam layer will take up a lot of space, you should fill up at least two-thirds of the glass.
  • Once you allow the foam to settle down, your glass will be half full.
  • Next, slowly pour the Guinness until the glass is full.
  • Make sure you do it gradually so that the Guinness does not pierce through the first layer of pale ale.

– The Beer Layering Tool Method

A lot of people find the spoon method a little tricky because:

  • Not everyone can or wants to bend their spoon at 90 degrees.
  • Adjusting the spoon height as you pour the second layer needs a lot of practice to be perfect

Similarly, pouring the perfect layered beer using the no-spoon method is nearly impossible for beginners.

If neither of these two methods work, you should try the beer layering tool method.

Layered beerA beer layering tool consists of a hollow hemisphere with extended rims that go over the glass’s rim. The extensions help the tool sit steadily on the glass without external support. The cavity of the tool consists of several tiny holes which allow the beer to pass through it into the glass.

To be on the safer side, we recommend buying beer layering tools sets that come with a pint glass. The tool might not fit well with other types of glasses in different dimensions and shapes.

– How To Use a Beer Layering Tool To Pour a Half and Half Beer

  • Grab a pale ale or lager, a stout, and your brand new pint glass
  • Quickly pour the pale ale with a nice foam head to cushion the stout
  • Wash the beer layering tool and place it above the glass
  • Slowly pour the stout through the tool. You will see the beer dripping gradually on the first layer.
  • Since the holes are evenly spaced, you don’t risk disrupting the separation with uneven pressure.
  • Once the beer level rises to the tool itself, carefully remove it and finish pouring the stout.

What Beer Can You Use ?

The beer you can use to make a Half and Half beer is Guinness. Being a stout beer, it’s light and effortlessly floats over other types of beer.

Here are a few more Guinness combinations you can experiment with:

  • Guinness + Harp Lager = Half and Half
  • Guinness + Bass Pale Ale = Black and Tan
  • Guinness + Hard Cider = Snakebite
  • Guinness + Strongbow Cider = Black Velvet
  • Guinness + Newcastle = Black Castle
  • Guinness + Blue Moon = Black and Blue

– Tips in Choosing the Perfect Beer

When preparing a half and half beer, knowing the recipe alone will not help. You also need to know the possible combinations of beer that can be used to make the two alcoholic beverages layer above each other.

Hence, before choosing the perfect beer combination for a half and half, here are a few things you need to keep in mind:

  • There should be a substantial difference in the density of the two beers. One has to have a lower density than the other. Only then can the lower density beer float over the base layer
  • Secondly, the two beers have to be of distinct colors. This will help you identify if the beers are layered or not. In the case of similar colored beers, you will have no way of knowing when they start to blend.
  • Although lager has a much lighter shade and is equally suitable for making a half and half beer, the original half and half beer recipe only uses varieties of pale ale.


– What Is Black and Tan Beer?

The Black and Tan is another name for half and half beer, which basically refers to the same recipe of mixing a pale ale with a stout to create a layered beer.

However, the name Black and Tan is not commonly used these days and is also considered offensive to the Irish people. Black and Tan was the name given to the Royal Irish Constabulary Reserve Force sent by Britain to Ireland to suppress Ireland’s Independence Movement in 1920-1921.

The name is still associated with the injustice meted out to the Irish by the oppressive British forces. Hence, if you are craving a black and tan in Ireland or an Irish bar, simply order a half and half beer.

– How Much Does a Beer Layering Tool Cost?

The beer layering tool costs $9 to $12. Although the tool itself doesn’t cost much, most brands pair it with a pint glass which adds to the cost. You will easily find these tools on Amazon and other online stores.

These layering tools are usually stainless and washable, making them last longer despite being dipped in beers all the time.

– Why Do Beers in a Half and Half Beer Do Not Mix?

The beers in a Half and Half Beer don’t mix because of simple physics. Generally, the bottom layer consists of pale ales, which have a higher molecular density than stouts like Guinness with low molecular density.

Owing to the difference in density, when the two layers meet, it’s difficult for the two layers to merge into each other. For the same reasons, you will see the top layer of Guinness effortlessly floating above the pale ale.

Final Thoughts

Half and half beer

The best thing about beer is there is no limit to imagination and experiments. Half and half beer is one such experimental cocktail that is widely popular among beer lovers.

Let’s look back at the critical points of this article:

  • The Guinness half and half beers are the most popular of the lot.
  • The mixture should have one beer with a lower density than the other for other combinations to work.
  • One of the easiest ways to make a half and half beer at home is by using a beer layering tool. It comes cheap, ranging from $9 to $12.

What makes this mix even more popular is the ease of creating the perfect beer cocktail right at home. All you need is the right ingredients and this comprehensive guide to pouring out the perfect half and half beer for yourself. Enjoy your little experiment!

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