A couple friends recently suggested that I write a post on malt liquor because they weren’t sure what it really was, even though we had consumed a decent amount of it in college. (Truth be told, I couldn’t drink the stuff. It was too horrid, even for my broke-ass college self.) I had my theories as to what makes malt liquor and why it was dubbed so, but I thought I’d consult Wikipedia to make sure I had my story straight.
Malt liquor is essentially a light lager that has had additional amounts of sugar, corn, or rice added to the malt wort during the brewing process. The purpose of the additional grains is to give the yeast additional fuel to produce more alcohol during fermentation.
What makes this type of beer different (and much cheaper) than other “high gravity” beers is the use of sugars and other grains, along with a lack of hops. Beer, in its purest form, uses only malted barley, so by using sugar, rice, or corn, it can produce some off flavors that are not consistent with traditional beer. In addition, little, if any, hops is used in malt liquor. Traditional high gravity beers tend to use even more hops than regular beer because the additional hops balances the intense malt character.
So, as I am sure you can conclude on your own, the purpose of malt liquor is to provide a very cheap way to get drunk. It tastes horrible and serves no other purpose.
Dear Brian I thought you would like to know about a malt liquor that has very little in common with American high gravity corn lager. It is called BALTIKA NO. 9 from St. Petersburg, Russia. It is called “special lager” and it is brewed with pilsner malts, hops and malt syrup. The malt syrup providing the high gravity booster for an eight percent beer. What is remarkable about this brew, compared to its American counterparts, is that it does not taste bad at all. Putting it in a cultural context, Russia suffers from vodka abuse, and worse, deadly moonshine. So Baltika No. 9 has probably saved lives, because it is indeed inexpensive. A fifty ounce brown plastic jug of this beer sells for three dollars tops, in the United States. It is most likely, less than a dollar in mother Russia.
Peace, The Beer Doctor
Nice write up fool.
Strong post until the blatent disrespect of OE right there at the end.
I read an article about pizza beer where some guys were doing homebrew and actually incorporating pizza in the mix (sorry for lack of technical terms). If I can find the article again, I’ll pass it along.
They actually put pizza in the wort? That is disgusting! That just can’t be good… If you find the article, I’d love to read it.
And I don’t mean any disrespect to OE. It serves its purpose, but it does taste horrible!
Thanks for the tip, Beer Doc! I have a friend who recently went to the Ukraine, and he said the beer was pretty good. Not sure if he tried the Baltika or anything similar. Perhaps he can chime in on his experience if he reads this.
I would imagine if you put some kind of hoppage in there and some decent malt grains, like the Baltika, it wouldn’t be bad. I think the American versions of malt liquor are so bad because they use straight up sugar and no hops. It’s like Icehouse on steroids…
I will gladly disrespect Old English 800. I would rather drink radiator fluid than that crap! If your only purpose in life is to get drunk, at least do it with something that doesn’t taste like a bunch of alcoholics pissed into a beer vat. This is extra good advice given that most likely you will end up tasting OE twice, once on the way down and once again after you hurl that disgusting crap back into the toilet where it belongs.
Nice write up, BTW.