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Malt Liquor and Beer

Views: 10     Author: Site Editor     Publish Time: 2022-10-09      Origin: Site

In this malt liquor vs beer comparison guide, we’re going to discuss the similarities and differences between the two. So, if you’re curious about forties and malt liquor, just keep on reading.

History of Beer

Beer is one of the oldest drinks in human history. In fact, it dates all the way back to 5000 BC when humans discovered beer and bread through barley and fermentation. Chemical tests also show beer was stored in jars roughly 7,000 years ago.

Fast forward to today, it’s hard to imagine that a multi-hundred billion dollar business started out from domesticating cereal grains and some wild yeast strains. The shift towards beer as a business began in the 1200’s when hops were added to beer and exported to various countries and territories. As the world became more industrialized, so too did beer.

Now we have everything from brewpubs to craft breweries to large billion dollar corporations brewing beer. While we can break beers down into lager vs ale, there are also too many different variations of beer to count. That just goes to show how much the world of brewing has grown over the years.

History of Malt Liquor

The term malt liquor was first mentioned in England in 1690 but not in North America until 1842. It was actually the Canadians who used the term malt liquor in reference to ale, beer, and porters. Modern day, you may be more familiar with the brands or slang terms for malt liquor. Colt 45, Magnum, Steel Reserve, and King Cobra are all popular malt liquors sold today. If you are a fan of singer and rapper Afroman, you may be familiar of the lyric “Colt 45 and two zig zags, baby that’s all we need”. He is indeed referencing the popular malt liquor.

Another common term for malt liquor is a ‘forty’. When it comes to common usage of the term malt liquor, it is generally associated with 40 oz bottles. Malt liquor can be sold in any size bottle and sometimes plain old beer is sold in a 40 oz bottle. So, a 40 oz bottle of beer does not guarantee the liquor is malt liquor.

What Is Beer?

Beer is fairly simple and only includes 4 main ingredients. Water, yeast, hops, and a source of starch. While different yeasts can be used in brewing beer, the two main types of yeast are going to differentiate whether the beer is a lager or ale. Our source of starch is primarily malted barley, but corn, rice, wheat, and other grains are commonly used. Lastly, we have hops which add flavoring. While the brewing process can cause a lot of variation in flavor, hops is the main ingredient and way to flavor beer.

However, beer does not have to use hops. As you may remember from the history of beer, hops weren’t added to beer until the 1200’s. So, what happens if you don’t use hops in beer?

What is Malt Liquor?

Malt Liquor, or a forty, is, in fact, a type of beer. Legally speaking, malt liquor is any beverage that is made through fermentation of any concoction of barley, malt, hops, or anything similar. In addition, the beverage must be more than 3 and 1/5 alcohol by weight which translates to roughly 5% ABV. So, most beers are considered malt liquors from a legal perspective. However, we are not as concerned with the legal definition as we are with providing you with information about how these terms are used.

Most beers come in, on average, in the 4-6% range. Since the craft beer explosion in the 2000’s, there are plenty of stronger beer options, though. That still doesn’t stop the notion that malt liquor is decidedly stronger than beer. Colt 45 lays on the lower end of the spectrum at 5.6% ABV with many around the 8-12% range, and plenty going up to 20% ABV. Malt liquor achieves this by adding sugars to the barley. Sugar is food for yeast, and ethanol or alcohol is the byproduct of yeast. So, the more sugar for the yeast to feed on, the higher the alcohol content.

The last thing to note is hops. While pretty much all beers and malt liquors use hops nowadays, it wasn’t uncommon for malt liquor to forgo the use of them. While not using hops can take away from the overall flavor, it also results in a less bitter taste. Many blogs will claim that malt liquors do not use hops, but they do. Malt liquor typically does not get as creative and artistic as craft beers with hops, nor do they use as much.

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