You’ve kind of wanted to know, but not enough to look it up yourself. What the heck is malt liquor?
The main difference between malt liquor and most other kinds of beer is alcohol content, though this varies greatly among brands.
An average American beer has 3.6 – 3.8 percent alcohol by weight. “Light” beers have much less, and European beers contain about 5 percent alcohol.
By contrast, Camo 5X Malt Liquor contains 8% alcohol by weight. St. Ides Malt Liquor is 7.3% alcohol. Others, like Colt 45 and Mickey’s, have less than 5.6% alcohol.
Now, the scientific difference.
Beer is either “top fermented” or “bottom fermented.” Porters, ales, and stouts are top fermented and malt liquor is bottom fermented, which means the wort is fermented by the yeast that settles to the bottom of the fermenting tanks. What is wort, you ask? Wort is the liquid extracted from the mashing process during brewing. Wort contains the sugars that will be fermented by the brewing yeast to produce alcohol.
Malt liquor is made from a wort containing a high percentage of fermentable sugars which makes it slightly sweeter and a bit spicy in flavor and also raises the alcohol content.
Not sure this is true, but it’s been said that some breweries take the excess alcohol from the light beer brewing process and add it to malt liquor.