glass of malt liquor next to glass of barley on checkered tablecloth

What Is Malt Liquor? Your Guide to This Unique Drink

Everyone’s familiar with liquor, beer, and wine. These are the three main types of alcohol that you’ll find on shelves and in bars/restaurants. That said, what about malt liquor? This drink is less common, but you might be familiar with some types of malt liquor, like Colt 45, Smirnoff Ice, White Claw, and even Truly. So, what is malt liquor? And what makes this drink so unique? 

The good news is that we’re here to help you find out, and hey, maybe you’ll have a new drink of choice to add to your favorites. We’ll take you through what malt Liquor is and how you can enjoy it, as well as where you can find it. Read on to learn everything you need to know about this unique beverage.

Malt Liquor: The Main Facts

Malt liquor is a unique type of alcohol that’s made with a mixture of malts, primarily barley and corn mashes. However, some other mashes may also be used, like wheat and rye. What makes it a malt liquor is the fact that it’s made with malt fermentation instead of distillation. This makes it different than other spirits like gin that rely solely on distillation.

Therefore, it shares many commonalities with beer. In fact, the only thing that makes it different from beer is that it has a higher ABV and beer only uses a single mash, which is usually barley.

Depending on the type of malt liquor, the flavor profile will vary. For example, a Colt 45 is a type of malt liquor that tastes more like beer than anything else. On the other hand, White Claws and other seltzer-based malt liquors have a sweeter flavor. Depending on the malt, sugar can also be added to further sweeten the drink, but this isn’t always common.

When it comes to how the drink is perceived, malt liquors have a bit of a reputation. They’re often referred to as “party drinks” because they’re inexpensive, easy to find on shelves, and tasty. There are also some associations with alcoholism and other stereotypes, but it’s important to note that there is no evidence to back this up.

Overall, malt liquor has grown in popularity and has become a staple of alcoholic beverages that you can find just about anywhere.

What Is the Alcohol Content of Malt Liquor?

Malt liquor doesn’t have a single alcohol content because there are several different manufacturers and types of malt liquor. That said, the average ABV for malt liquor is around 4%-9%. 

It’s also important to note that malt liquor has a higher ABV (on average) than beer. For example, Colt 45 has an ABV that’s just under 6%, while your average beer has an ABV closer to 4% or 5%. Additionally, malt liquor is not as strong as liquor or even close to as strong as liquor because of how it’s fermented.

Malt liquor combined with seltzer is also becoming popular with drinks like White Claws and Truly’s. These drinks have an ABV closer to 5% and have a sweeter flavor.

What Is Malt Liquor Made From?

Malt liquor is usually made from a combination of barley and corn mash. Some other ingredients that are required include yeast, water, and sometimes hops. Some brands, like White Claw, also mix their malt liquor with seltzer water to achieve their desired flavor. Citric acid, natural flavors, and hop extracts can also be used to make malt liquor. 

It’s also important to note that malt liquor may also have additives like sugar to enhance the flavor and make it sweeter. Artificial sweeteners may also be used to make malt liquor taste better, so it comes down to the manufacturer.

What Is the Primary Ingredient of Malt Liquor

The primary ingredient in malt liquor is the barley or other type of grain that’s used to make the malt. Like beer, barley makes up most of the mash and then it’s combined with either corn, wheat, or rye to finish the job. Ultimately, without the grain, you wouldn’t be able to have malt liquor of any kind. 

Other ingredients you’ll find in almost any other malt liquor include corn, rye, or wheat. Sugar, hops, and yeast are also important ingredients in malt liquor.

How Is Malt Liquor Made?

Malt liquor is made through the process of fermentation, which is similar to beer. While it has liquor in the name, malt liquor does not go through the distillation process, so it’s closer to beer in flavor profile, ABV, and even appearance.

When it comes to making malt liquor, the process is typically the same for each manufacturer. First, it’s important to start with the germination process. This is done by soaking the grains in water and waiting for them to germinate. Once they start the process, the malt liquor is dried with hot air.

Once that process is done, it’s time to move on to the mash. The mash is made by combining the grains with water and yeast. Next, it’s time to let the mash ferment, which is followed by distillation. The last two steps are to add hops, sugar, and other ingredients for flavor before bottling.

How Is Malt Liquor Distilled or Filtered?

Malt liquor goes through the process of fermentation before being distilled or filtered, which makes it closer to a beer than a liquor. However, where it goes in a different direction is how it’s filtered and what the result is. 

For example, malt liquor usually has less flavor than beer after the filtering process to allow for additional flavors to be added. This is how White Claw adds citrus, fruit, and other flavors to their beverages. Furthermore, malt liquors can pair easily with drinks like seltzer.

Can You Make Malt Liquor Yourself?

Yes, you can make any type of liquor yourself, including malt liquor. That said, you need a lot of space, brewing equipment, and time. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a rushed product that doesn’t taste any good. Plus, malt liquor has a tough flavor profile to mask or enhance if you don’t know what you’re doing. For these reasons, we recommend getting the malt liquor from a reputable company that has been doing it for a while.

When it comes to places to get malt liquor, you can find it in most places because it’s inexpensive to make. You’ll find it in convenience stores, bars, restaurants, and even some liquor stores depending on your state. It’s also possible to find malt liquor online when you need to.

Give Malt Liquor a Try Today 

glass of malt liquor by bag of barley

Malt liquor is one of the more unique types of alcohol available. It’s not quite beer and it’s not quite liquor, either, so it can be confusing to know what it is. Thankfully, our comprehensive guide covers everything you need to know about malt liquor. Whether you want to make it yourself or brag to your friends that White Claw isn’t made with “Real” vodka, you should have plenty of information to go to bat.

If you haven’t tried malt liquor, we also recommend giving it a shot. It’s a great choice for people who like something sweeter than beer but not as strong as liquor. 

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