At some point in your beer adventures, you’ll find yourself standing in front of the beer cooler at a gas station, and you might ask yourself, “what the hell is malt liquor, anyway?” It’s a good question. Basically, “malt liquor” is a beer with a high ABV that relies on additives like corn or sugar to give it a sweet side. Anheuser Busch makes a bunch of different malt liquor options, from King Cobra to Natty Daddy. And Pabst makes Colt 45, probably the most famous malt liquor of all because Lando Calrissian drinks it. Miller makes Olde English and Magnum. These are all fine 40-ounce beers in their own right. But every once in a while, a well-respected craft brewery will whip up a one-off malt liquor just for the hell of it. Some of these beers were one-off experiments, others get limited distribution, so they’re tough to find. But we think you should keep an eye out for them anyway, because the mash up of high/low culture in these 40-ouncers is too good to pass up.
We actually got to review this beer, which pays homage to the Beastie Boys and that infamous mix of orange juice and crappy beer. It’s a strong ale that definitely resides on the sweet side thanks to the robust malt bill and use of orange peel. It’s 8% and No-Li released it as a summer seasonal this year, so you might be able to find a bottle here or there.
Photo via New Belgium blog
brewed this “imperial lager” to celebrate their 40,000th batch of beer. It was 9% ABV and named after a mythical creature one of the brewers invented during childhood. They distributed a small amount in 40-ounce bottles, most of which are probably long gone by now.
Liquor De Malt
Photo via Dogfish Head blog
French words. So fancy. Dogfish Head used corn for this 40-ounce beast released oh so long ago (2009 was the last release according to Dogfish’s site). Even better, the beer came with a “hand-stamped” brown paper bag. You know, for authenticity.
MAD4 Malt Liquor
This was created as part of a five-beer series in 2014 that got pretty weird. The Malt Liquor was probably the most sane of the bunch, when you compare it to its cohorts (a champagne beer with green tea, a pilsner with chamomile…). Mikkeller said it tasted “very sweet (like butterscotch).” I could probably get behind some butterscotch beer. Especially a 9% ABV butterscotch beer.
Smuttlabs Granite State Destroyer
Mark your calendars, because this beer is slated for a 2016 release. The Granite State Destroyer is an “imperial corn lager” that comes in at 8.5%, brewed in collaboration with New Hampshire-based metal band, Scissorfight. They released it for the first time last year, and it’s scheduled to come back in August 2016. In quart bottles, naturally.