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Difference Between Beer and Malt Liquor

beerBeer vs Malt Liquor

You may have consumed both beer and malt liquor, and have noticed a difference in their flavors. Well, apart from this, there are many other differences between the two. Indeed, some people consider malt liquor to be inferior to beer.

The main difference between malt liquor and beer is in the way in which they are made and in the alcohol content. Beer is either top fermented or bottom fermented, while malt liquor is only bottom fermented.

When considering the alcohol content, malt liquor has a higher alcohol content than beer. Malt alcohol often contains corn, added sugar, or other substances that increase the alcohol content. Beer contains less alcohol, usually less than five percent. Drinks that exceed this are called malt liquor, lager or ale. Malt liquor has an alcohol content of 12 percent or more.

When it comes to taste, malt liquor lacks the bitter taste that comes with beer. This is because malt liquor has been sweetened. Malt liquor also has a more spicy taste than beer. Beer is milder, and has a smoother flavor than malt liquor.

As earlier stated, some people consider malt liquor to be an inferior beer, as it is sold in large bottles. Malt liquor is sold in 40-ounce bottles, whereas beer is sold in 12-ounce bottles. Malt liquor is cheaper than beer.

Malt liquor is considered to be inferior in quality to beer. Malt liquor has been known as an alcoholic beverage common amongst the lower classes. One can get drunk more quickly with malt liquor than with beer.

1. Beer is either top fermented or bottom fermented, while malt liquor is only bottom fermented.
2. Beer contains less alcohol, normally less than five percent. Malt liquor, on the other hand, has a higher alcohol content, usually 12 percent or more.
3. Malt liquor lacks the bitter taste that comes with beer. It also has a spicier taste. Beer is milder and has a smoother flavor than malt liquor.
4. Malt liquor is sold in 40-ounce bottles, whereas beer is sold in 12-ounce bottles.
5. Malt liquor is cheaper than beer.

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  1. Whoever wrote this is an idiot. I am drinking a 12 oz Spaten Optimator which is 7.2% alcohol, is way more expensive than most beers under 5% alcohol, and is labeled as malt liquor. There are many, many, many beers over 5% alcohol that aren’t labeled Malt Liquor. Mickey’s Big Mouth is another malt liquor at only 5.5% ABV and is sold in 12oz bottles as well. There are very expensive beers such as barley wines that can be over 10% ABV that will get you drunk much quicker than malt liquors like Old English 800 which is under 8% ABV.

    It is true that many beers are top fermented. Bottom fermented beers are called Lagers, such as Yuengling Lager, and are fermented at cooler temps. The comments about taste just aren’t true.

  2. Malt liquor isn’t always sold in forty ounce bottles. Sleemans has a malt in 12 ounce bottles.

  3. Similarly, beer is sometimes sold in 22 oz, 36 oz, and yes, even 40 oz bottles.

  4. Does Matina and Maltonic soft drinks content a little quantity of alcohol (ethanol)?

  5. I am enjoying a Spaten Octoberfest malt liquor right now. It is:
    not inexpensive
    in a 12 oz bottle
    not sweet
    5.9 %
    very tasty.

  6. I am definitely low class and noticed the malt label on my six pack of Kirin Ichiban, a beer I have been enjoying lately. I was kind of surprised it was malt liquor, what does it mean?? that’s how I ended up on this website!! cheers!!

  7. Old English is one strong malt beer. I like it cause it gets you buzzed real fast.( yes, I’m low class) You have to drink it cold though. If it’s too warm it taste terrible.
    I actually haven’t had an Old English for a long time. I like those Chimay beers. Made by monks somewhere. Those are really strong. Are they cosidered malt?

  8. Without having to write a thesis about beer, I will just suggest the author check out a site like “Beer Advocate” and educate himself about beer. Many people have misconceptions about beer thanks to the “Big 3” breweries.

  9. Wow, wow, and more wow. I wanted to enjoy this website as I constantly seek to expand my horizons, but this article was completely off-base in almost everything it said. Before I get into what was incorrectly stated, I would like to give the real answer. Malt liquor is generally accepted to be a style of beer popular in the United States and Canada. Outside of those countries, it probably has an entirely different connotation and probably is just a technical term for beer in general since beer is always alcohol made from malt. The term “malt liquor” can be a legal term in some states which differentiate it from other styles of alcoholic beverage and in these cases any beer that falls within a certain alcohol content is considered “malt liquor” regardless of style. However, this is not how it is referred to in common usage. As a beer style there it is typically designed for economy. It typically will be very low or entirely lack hops because hops cost money. It will typically have adjuncts like corn and straight sugar to up the alcohol content in the cheapest possible way. It has also been known to make use of an enzyme to convert unfermentable sugars into fermentable sugars in order to maximize on efficiency and alcohol content. It is also typically a fairly sweet beer and tends to have various faults from cheap and fast fermenting that can range anywhere from a mild propanol flavour to a severe taste of green apples. However, some don’t have any taste at all reminiscent of cheap fermenting faults. Despite its reputation for being higher in alcohol, alcohol content can range anywhere from 4.9% to 12% (rarely higher). Economy is really the key and there’s a large range of flavours, but sweet and boozy is typical.

    So, onto what is wrong with this article:
    They were right about it always being bottom fermented whereas as beer is either top or bottom fermented. This is because it is a TYPE of beer. The article says that it has a higher alcohol content than beer. This is not true. As stated before, alcohol content ranges from 4.9% to 12%. Beer can range from 2.8%-14% in beers that I have actually seen with my own eyes. I’ve heard of beers with alcohol contents outside that range, but that is EXTREMELY rare. So, while we’re at it, let’s add in the article’s claim that malt liquor has an alcohol content of 12% or HIGHER. That’s ridiculous. I’ve never seen one higher. EVER. 12% is the top of the range. The most popular brands tend to be around 6% alcohol, though higher percentages are very common as well. This article says that beer is usually less than 5% alcohol. Ridiculous. Light beer is usually less than that and light beer is very popular in America, but most other beer styles popular today are 5% or higher in alcohol content. Certainly in the craft beer market. Outside that, 5% on the dot is the norm. These are what most countries’ “export” beers tend to be. The article says that drinks that exceed this are called malt liquor, lager or ale. Well, guess what, so are beers that that are under 5%. All beers are either lager or ale. Malt liquor is a type of lager. That’s because it is bottom fermented. Top fermented beers are called “ale.” The article says that malt liquor lacks beer’s bitter taste because it is sweetened. This is partially true, but it’s mostly because it lacks hops, the bitter agent in beer. Duh! It then says that malt liquor is “spicy.” That’s not true. That would be weird. It tends to be “boozy.” It lets the taste of the alcohol come through by keeping the flavour otherwise fairly clean. They don’t try to hide the alcohol taste. Spicy is a weird word to use. It then says beer is milder and has a smoother flavour than malt liquor. Not true. Other LAGERS tend to be milder and smoother in flavour. Ales are typically much less mild and much less smooth because they’re designed for flavour. Then the article brings up container size. There’s no technical truth to that. Malt liquor has a reputation for being popular in 40 oz. bottles, but in reality both malt liquor and other styles of beer can come in a large variety of bottle sizes. I typically drink malt liquor in 16 oz. cans. But I drink all kinds of beer in all kinds of containers. The next claim is that malt liquor is cheaper than beer. It is designed for economy and is in the economy beer market, but the cheapest beer available is certainly not malt liquor. Economy beers with low alcohol contents and very little taste of any kind tend to be the cheapest. These are often light lagers like “Keystone light.” So, hopefully my clarifications are heard and will help you unlearn all of the false statements (most of the sentences) in this article.

  10. Let me continue what the previous poster started in the arena of clearing up errors. Ale is the name for warm fermented beer, Lager is cold fermented. Lager and ale has nothing to do with alcohol content.

  11. Dope!

  12. Jordy… lol. You should write your own article about malt liquor on the web. I very much enjoyed reading your comment. honestly I have had two 40 oz malts tonight, but even with that being said…(BERP).I read the article, thinking to myself. “I think this dude is a little uninformed.” I just wanted to know some information about alchohal content, and came across this BS.

  13. I love the enthusiasm everyone has on this site about this topic. Ive wondered about this for quite some time, and then i realized, whats it matter? Just enjoy the taste and the buzz. And to those snobs out there who look down on someone drinking malt liquor, challenge them to a blind taste test in which there atleast 4 different types of beer; budweiser, miller light, yuengling,an IPA, and then mickeys. I doubt their high brow taste buds can tell the difference.

    • Seriously? You don’t have to be a beer snob (like myself) to be able to taste the differences between the garbage you listed here. Blind or not. It’s hilarious how white trash just sucks down whatever gets them drunk the fastest and don’t realize there’s any flavor to it.

      • Yes you are a snob! I don’t drink alcohol for taste or flavors no I’m not white trash I want the most bang fore my buck! Don’t judge me. You can sit there and spend tons of money for your shitty tasting ales and specialty flavor beers that are garbage. I’ll spend three dollars for a steel reserve and get happy. F off snob and your opinions!!

  14. King, ummm, yea I’m positive I could tell you which is an IPA, Light Pilsner, or a Mickeys…. no doubt in my mind. Depends on which yuengling your are talking about, I may confuse it with the Miller Light. I’m no snob and don’t really drink much but picking an IPA from a Miller Lite I think even a 12 year old having his first beer could do for you.

  15. Spaten Optimator?
    Mickey’s Big Mouth?
    What a pretentious crock of snooty wannabees! Probably drink with your pinkie fingers sticking out, too!

    Gimme a Bud. Period!

    • Heres the deal. Ive traveled in all the continents, variety is the spice of life. your favorite beverage ay not be available so tri something else. Dont be a pussy.

  16. Guinness Extra Stout is classified a malt liquer!
    Take this site down. Good Grief!!!!!!

  17. Holy crap this idiot made me laugh with every other sentence I read. Malt Liquor is usually 12% ABV or more? There’s a few out there that may be, but with the writer’s obvious small scope of beer he has not come across any. All of the big ones have less than 7%. beer, on the other hand, rarely goes BELOW 5% as mentioned (unless it is crappy macro brewed light beer or session beers). This made me laugh. Thanks!

  18. I don’t understand none of that hyper aggravated malt liquor talk but I’m from Memphis and I’m drinking a colt 45 at this moment and I’m feeling pretty Damn good …i guess it’s the low standard for alcohol…but it still gets you litt…btw i Can see y’all was buzzed on a malt liquor when y’all had this conversation ….very literal lmao

  19. In college a little over a decade ago, I did a research regarding which beers can make you live the longest…. ofcourse I didn’t find a conclusion and don’t know if one existed but fo sure.. the old timers that were above 70, 72, 75, 80, and 92 at the time of my project were majority Mickey’s drinkers. ” Why you asking me about my diabetes and the high sugar content of my green grenade?
    Listen im 75 years old and they told me that 15 years ago about diabetes that’s why I shared it with you….come back to me in a decade or two, if I’m still around then you know those medical practitioners or so called doctors are full of crock…ok? A deal? You owe me a mickey’s then. ”
    June 2017…..i met up with that old timer who was past 86y.o. that made that statement to me.
    His brain was still shiney, he still mobile, and smiled and laughed as we shared our mickey’s……
    Old timer I think I be drinking a Mickey’s so that I can live to be 80+……we laughed stupid cuz he said.. ” Boy you still gullible like 10 years ago or so….dont you know you can only make it to my age if you got good GENES? ”

  20. I know I am late to the game but most states have ABV limits on what can be called beer; not necessarily what can be sold. This is typically based on a combination of several factors including history, consumer expectations, and where the product may be sold – with the liquor or the beer, or in a state run shop or a grocery store. States are free to regulate what these products are called. Often alcoholic malt beverages (“beer”) that are under 3.2% are called near beer; from there to under about 6% are called beer; from there to under about 9% are called malt liquor; and over that are called typically referred to as barley wine. The terms are irrelevant to most craft drinkers but can act to inform the consumer how much alcohol they can expect from the drink and if you are selling the product you will want to know what requirements your state places on how these drinks are labeled and where they can be sold. Cheers!

  21. If it’s beer or malt liquor, who cares!!!! Just drink shut up and have a good time!! Nobody gives a shit about the differences everybody just wants to get f ‘ed up!!!!

  22. The person said some incorrect points,such as malt liquor being 12 p

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