The Perfect Black and Tan

Beer Layering Tool

Pair Your Brews

Layered beers create a distinctive look and a more complex flavor. But making one can take serious bartending skills.

John Deboer created this beer layering tool so beer lovers can create these combinations easily at home.

The secret is to have a bottom beer that’s denser than the one on top. A stout and a lager are the
traditional combo, but there are lots of variations that balance different flavors, like a cider and stout. With the tool in place on your pint glass, all you need to do is pour slowly.

These layered drinks are often called a “Black and Tan,” but that term is controversial for some because it conjures up a dark time in Irish history. The “black and tan” were British paramilitary troops with uniforms of those colors, and they violently suppressed the Irish a century ago. If you ever find yourself in Ireland, it’s best to use the more respectful term “half and half.”

Whatever you call these combinations, making them is now as easy as enjoying them.
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Balance one beer on another.

Shop The Perfect Black and Tan Products

Grommet Launch Conversation

  • John

    Hello beer lovers! I’m John, inventor of The Perfect Black and Tan beer layering tool. With this tool you can serve and enjoy beer in a different and dramatic way. I’m excited to be introducing my product on The Grommet and look forward to answering your questions. Thanks, John

  • Bryant
    3/30/2016 10:36 AM

    John, fantastic idea! I'm in the promotional products business and see an opportunity for your beer layering tool to be sold in larger quantities to beer distributors, bars and corporations. Are you pursuing that avenue with this product?


  • John
    John – Special Guest
    3/30/2016 10:55 AM

    Hi Bryant, I think using this for promotions is a great idea. We'll need to work through The Grommet wholesale side to make this happen.


  • Margo
    3/30/2016 12:32 PM

    @John @bryant Good afternoon Bryant! Feel free to reach out to us at [email protected] and we can get moving on this!

  • Gail
    3/30/2016 10:55 AM

    Could this tool be used to create an "Arnold Palmer" from lemonade and iced tea?

  • John
    John – Special Guest
    3/30/2016 11:00 AM

    Hmmmm, not sure but probably as long as the bottom layer liquid is heavier (denser) than the top layer it should work fine. I'll need to try it myself!

  • John
    John – Special Guest
    3/30/2016 11:04 AM

    I just looked it up and saw some pictures. It appears that the lemonade is the bottom layer. Looks delicious...

  • Patricia
    3/30/2016 11:44 AM

    @John do instructions come with this item?

  • John
    John – Special Guest
    3/30/2016 11:50 AM

    Yes, definitely. They are easy to follow. Not all beers will layer well together as the bottom layer must be heavier than the top layer and this is sometimes not easy to figure out. However, all 'failures' are still enjoyable. I've enjoyed many 'failures' while developing and using the tool.

  • John
    John – Special Guest
    3/30/2016 11:56 AM

    Also, there are many recipes available on the internet that are guaranteed to work. For example: Guinness Draught cans over Blue Moon or Guinness Draught cans over cider. Just look up "Black and Tan recipes".

  • Gene
    3/30/2016 2:02 PM


    Yes, Guinness is not only a "light" beer but also a low alcohol drink. I like to think I can drink more that way. Color is generally independent of all the other things that people attach to beer properties.

    At the Guinness Warehouse, they claim that only water, roasted barley, hops, and yeast go into their beer. Avoiding the malt may be the low alcohol and low density.

  • John
    John – Special Guest
    3/30/2016 2:26 PM

    Agreed. I think it is only 4.5% ABV. Not super-lite but a lot easier to drink more of than the 6 and 7% craft beers that are out there. I agree that there is a correlation between low density and low alcohol.

  • Joe
    3/30/2016 12:14 PM

    Thanks John. Just ordered one! One question ... how do I know if a beer is denser than the next. I would think Guiness is denser than a Lager??

  • Joe
    3/30/2016 12:17 PM

    John, disregard my question. I just read your response to Patricia's post.

  • John
    John – Special Guest
    3/30/2016 12:23 PM


    Guinness is actually relatively light for a beer. Very surprising!

    You could determine the specific density of your beers with a hydrometer but that would cut into your beer drinking time so I wouldn't recommend that.

    However, there are some general rules. First, it is very important to know that not all beer combinations will layer well. Obviously, many beers will have almost the same density. Often they will mix even when pouring very gently. Experimentation with many different beers is necessary. Here are some rules of thumb to help.

    - Stouts generally work well for a top dark layer

    - Porters generally work well for a bottom dark layer

    - Black lagers may work well for either a top or bottom dark layer

    When in doubt as to whether to try the dark beer on the top or bottom, try the dark beer on the top first. You will be able to tell right away if it works or not. If it doesn't layer and the dark beer drops down quickly into the lighter bottom layer, reversing the layers will often result in a good combination.

    These rules say 'generally' because there are beers that will layer over a stout (ie Miller Lite) and beers that will layer under a porter (ie Franconia Wheat). Black lagers may work well as a dark bottom layer or a dark top (ie Bottom: New Belgium 1554, Top: Shiner Black Lager).

    Hope this helps!

  • Joe
    3/30/2016 12:40 PM

    Great. You are a man that knows your beers! Thanks John. But what do I do with the "mistakes"? .... just kidding, I know that answer.

  • John
    John – Special Guest
    3/30/2016 12:47 PM

    Mistakes are part of the fun! ;)

  • John
    John – Special Guest
    3/30/2016 1:57 PM

    Here are some pictures of the great layered beer drinks that can be made with the tool. The bottles and cans shown in the picture are the actual beers used.


  • Richard
    3/30/2016 3:03 PM


    I believe that Guinness already offers this type of tool as a promotional item.


  • John
    John – Special Guest
    3/30/2016 3:24 PM


    Good comment. You are correct. Guinness offers an upside-down spoon that is placed on the edge of a glass. The beer is poured over the spoon so that the liquid flow is slowed before it drops into the bottom layer beer to minimize mixing. I used this for many years but always found that it was hard to control the flow and some technique was needed to get nice layer separation.

    I believe with my tool it is just easier to get better results. If someone struggled with the spoon, they won't with this tool.

  • Todd
    3/30/2016 3:51 PM

    @John I've always struggled with the "spoons" John. I've bought several different ones thinking it would always be easier and yet never seems to be. They always mix more than I would like during the pour. I am excited to try yours after seeing the pictures you posted. Those are some visually wonderful pours!

  • John
    John – Special Guest
    3/30/2016 4:09 PM

    @Todd Describing a layered beer is difficult. People always go 'Huh?' Once they see a picture though, they go 'Ahhhhh I get it!' and ask me to pour them one. :)

  • carrie
    3/30/2016 3:56 PM

    Hi mention it does well with Guinness in a can, will it work with Guinness on tap?

  • John
    John – Special Guest
    3/30/2016 4:05 PM

    Carrie - It should work well with Guinness on tap though I have never tried it myself. The Guinness in the can is supposed to be the same as the on tap stuff so should work well.

    I always say 'Guinness in a can' because some people struggle to get a good layer with Guinness in a bottle. Bottled Guinness is not as easy to layer as Guinness cans. I suspect that it is a little denser.

  • ken
    3/30/2016 7:36 PM

    Great product for anyone's beer tasting room. However, one must be careful. In Dubin, "Black and Tan" is a London cop. I have received the looks for ordering one. It is a "Half and Half" there.

  • Mike
    Mike – Grommet Team
    3/30/2016 9:27 PM

    Right you are, Ken. We touched on that in the video. Many of us were unaware prior to being introduced to the product. "Half and half" is definitely the way to go. Thanks for looking out.

  • Chris
    3/30/2016 11:48 PM

    Hi John - What is the difference between your "tool" and the traditional Turtle?

    These have been around for years - maybe even centuries?

  • Mike
    Mike – Grommet Team
    3/31/2016 10:25 AM

    Hi Chris, here is the response from John...

    Chris, The turtle is a good tool for making black and tans and an improvement over the classic upside down spoon method. However, I feel that this tool does a better job in controlling the beer flow and minimizing the amount of 'technique' needed to make a great black and tan drink.

The launch day conversation has ended. Please direct further questions about this Grommet to our Community Experience Team.