How to not make a black and tan

Food Network’s Michael Chiarello apparently doesn’t know jack about beer.

I managed to see what just might be the most idiotic beer fail I’ve ever seen on TV. After getting home from a half-day of work, I flipped on the TV as I grabbed an early lunch. The TV had been on the Food Network, and I caught a guy (Michael Chiarello) illustrating how to make a black and tan in just about the most incorrect manner possible. For those looking to see this for themselves, here’s the show: Team Dinner.

I don’t have a video clip of the segment, but to the best of my recollection here’s what I saw:

Michael was explaining first how to pour a dark beer. I couldn’t make out what he was pouring, but it looked like a Samuel Smith of some kind by the clear bottle. He explained something about a dark beer being heavy and to pour it slowly, and did so into a clear plastic party cup until it was about half full.

Then Michael explained that the darker beer supports the lighter beer that will float on top of it. (At this point I’m saying, alout to myself, “you’ve got to be kidding”.) He takes a Corona in one hand, and with a spoon in the other explains that you have to pour the lager slowly over a spoon into the dark beer. He then proceeds to do so, and the camera quickly cuts away as the lager plummets directly into the dark beer and foams up.

We then see the finished product – a cup of dark beer – with Michael saying something like “and that’s how you make a black and tan”.

Now, I don’t have the audience that Food Network does (or maybe I do, who knows…) but let me try to fix this epic failure of a recipe.

First, Michael wasn’t completely off since in the UK a black and tan is frequently served as a stout with a draught ale or lager poured directly into it, leaving it well-mixed. But that negates the need for the spoon and flies in the face of his “light floats on dark” statement.

Now, traditionally in the US a Black & Tan (using a spoon to separate the beers) is made with a pale ale or lager (Bass, Smithwicks, Harp) and either a stout or porter (Guinness, Murphy’s, Taddy Porter). First add the pale ale or lager, then use a spoon to float the stout or porter on top. But you likely knew that already, didn’t you? 😉

I was quite surprised that no one caught this before the episode aired. It wasn’t live, from what I could tell. You would think that somewhere there’d be a camera worker, editor or production crew member who would speak up and either rectify or remove the blunder from the show. It kind of makes me wonder how many other incorrect recipes they air.

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