Itwas, for me, love at first sight with the Black and Tan, a visually stimulating and tongue-tantalizing blend of Bass Ale on the bottom and Guinness Draught on top. Our relationship, certainly connected to our mutual Irish roots, got off to a great start-kegs of the two during my college days in Isla Vista, then pints during trivia nights at Dargan’s back in the day, even late-nighters at The James Joyce when Patrick and Danny still worked there.
But then the rumors started: “Black and Tans, you know, are named after the British stormtroopers who killed Irish men, raped their women, and burned their churches.” Things got understandably rocky, and we started to spend time apart.
It seemed like everyone around me knew something I didn’t, and they were all talking behind my back. I did some asking around and found the gossip was true. “Black and Tans” was, indeed, the nickname for the Royal Irish Constabulary Reserve Force, an undisciplined paramilitary group that fought against the Irish Republican Army in the 1920s. When the IRA killed one of their members, the Black and Tans would exact revenge on civilian populations by sacking entire towns, murdering priests, and committing what would be referred to as Bloody Sunday. I realized they may have even killed a long-lost relative of mine, for many of their attacks were in the southern and western regions where my family once lived. Our love affair was caput.
But my snooping around didn’t result in total heartbreak. I learned there was an all-Irish way to enjoy dark-atop-light, and it went by the less offensive name Half-and-Half. This concoction is Harp Lager adorned with a floater of Guinness, and because Harp is smoother than Bass, it honestly tastes a whole lot better anyway. (The Guinness floats, incidentally, because it is carbonated with nitrogen, which is a lighter gas than Harp’s carbon dioxide.)
Throughout the years, my infatuation with Half-and-Halfs has waxed (she’s a refreshing quaff during hot days) and waned (she’s a pricey date). But I’ll never crawl back to the Black and Tan-unless, of course, that’s all you’re serving this weekend.