The politics of beer

Over the weekend, my Patient Husband suggested we might watch Fugitive Alien and have a “Black and Tan.”

Now if you’re wondering what either of those are, Fugitive Alien is a Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode, described by the Mad Scientists as “a strung-together series of Japanese TV shows that when strung together in this way, make for some of the best TV has to offer.” (Next weekend, we’re watching Fugitive Alien 2, which is even better.)

We’ve seen these about eight times, which you might think should make us sad but instead makes us laugh. We now own digital copies, so they won’t ever wear out. Our grandkids will be able to watch the Fugitive Alien movies!

A “Black and Tan” is a drink that’s equal parts stout beer and pale ale. You pour the pale ale first, and then the dark beer over the top, so you get this mixture. It’s okay, but you can see the problem right away: if you’re making this at home, you need to open two bottles, so for my Patient Husband to have a Black and Tan, he requires my participation.

Fortunately, beer goes well with Fugitive Alien (or rather, Fugitive Alien goes better with beer), so I agreed.

On Saturday morning, I went back to the liquor store owned by the most knowledgable man on Earth, and he said, “You know, that’s the traditional way to make a Black and Tan, but it’s not the best.”


“You see,” he said, “Guinness is an Irish beer, and Bass is English.”

Cue Philangelus staring blankly. And then, recognition.

“McSorley’s is an Irish ale,” he said. “Most people migrate to using that.”

This was nuts. Even if the English and Irish have had their differences, does that really mean we can’t mix their ingredients? Who considers the politics of beer? Well, I mean other than the liquor store owner who knows everything? It put me in mind of Screwtape Proposes A Toast, where Screwtape checks out the wine and realizes it’s Pharisee, a blend of all different kinds of religious fanatics corked together in the same bottle for all eternity, each simultaneously afraid of and hating all the others.

I said, “But wouldn’t that make it tastier, having the different flavors at war with each other?”

Now he looked at me as if I were nuts, and he agreed it might be spicier that way. I paid for the beer and went home.

We have one more Fugitive Alien movie to watch next weekend. While we’re listening to the Forklift Song and watching guys in leather space suits running away from cheap special effects, I hope the Black and Tan kicks up a good fight.


  1. hthrb

    Mmmm, Black and Tan. I usually use Kilkenny but I’ll try Bass next time (in a few months). Alcohol politics is brutal. I had a buddy bring Bushmills to our St Patrick’s day party once, my pack of Irish Catholic uncles teased him for minutes 🙂

  2. Ken Rolph

    “Even if the English and Irish have had their differences, does that really mean we can’t mix their ingredients?”

    You can probably get away with this in the USA, which is a mongrel nation by design. But there were in the past, and still may be, places in Ireland where you could suffer serious damage from mixing your loyalties in this way, especially in public.