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Sláinte with These Guinness Blends

When you want more than just a plain pint of Guinness.

Guinness Black and Tan
Guinness Black and Tan
Steven Guzzardi

When most people go out to celebrate St. Patrick's Day, their Irish beer of choice is usually Guinness. Guinness came about courtesy of the English proclivity for blending beers. The porter style, which includes stout, originates from brewers trying to replicate the flavor of cheap pub blends of old stale beer mixed with new pale and mild ales. So Guinness really goes back to its origins when it is drunk in combination with other beers.

The best known of these combinations is the Black and Tan. The pourer uses a spoon to carefully layer a lower gravity porter or stout (the most popular option being Guinness) on top of a higher density pale ale or lager so that two layers appear. Unfortunately, Black and Tan also became the nickname of a particularly brutal group of soldiers officially known as the Royal Irish Constabulary Reserve Force that were sent to control the Irish Republican Army. Due to the bad associations with the name, it is better to order a Half and Half in Ireland, which is usually made with Guinness and Ireland's Harp lager.

Walk in to almost any self-styled pub in D.C., from Fado's to The Dubliner to Ri Ra, to find a Black and Tan. But a quick perusal of recipes shows innumerable Guinness blends with fun names — almost too many to list. These are just some of the ones that can be found on menus around D.C. bars:

Black Velvet: The gentlemen's Guinness drink, a Black Velvet is half champagne and half Guinness served in a champagne flute. Guinness says the drink was first served at Brook's Club in London on the occasion of Prince Albert's death. They put the champagne into mourning by mixing it with the dark-colored Guinness.
Where to Order:
The Queen Vic, Irish Whiskey, Fado

Poor Man's Black Velvet/Black Velveteen: Those who aren't flush enough for champagne can opt for a version that substitutes cider or perry. It is sometimes called a Snakebite, though that name is more frequently used for lager and cider.
Where to Order:
Fado, Irish Whiskey, Star & Shamrock

Blacksmith: Another layered drink like the Black and Tan, a Blacksmith is half Smithwick's, an Irish red ale.
Where to Order:
Irish Whiskey, Fado

Blackcastle: Following with the theme, this blend features England's Newcastle Brown Ale.
Where to Order:

Black and Black: Blackcurrant drinks like Ribena are very popular in England. So it seems only natural to drunkenly consider throwing a shot of it into beer.
Where to Order:
Fado, The Queen Vic

Black and Blue: For an American spin on things, a Black and Blue features a layer of Blue Moon topped with Guinness.
Where to Order:
Clyde's, The Hamilton

Black and Brau: Bringing it back to local beers, Fado serves a mix of Guinness and DC Brau's Public ale.
Where to Order: Fado