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Ask Adam: What’s the Difference Between Malt Liquor and Beer?

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What’s the difference between cheap beer and malt liquor?

In reality, not much. Both are made the same way: You create a mash, let it ferment, bottle it, let it carbonate, and then you have your product. The real difference lies in what’s used to create each, and the amount of alcohol you wind up with when all is said and done.

To make beer, you usually boil grains such as barley, wheat, and rye to extract the fermentable sugars, and then you add yeast. That gets you a beer with alcohol content that averages between 4.5 and 8 percent. When making malt liquor, however, brewers want the alcohol to be much higher. To achieve that higher level of alcohol, they need to add more sugar (more sugar = more alcohol) so they incorporate adjuncts like corn and even pure white sugar. The result is a beverage with more than 12 percent alcohol, often going as high as 20 percent.

Each state has its own regulations as to when a beer must stop being called beer and instead must be called malt liquor, but usually, the threshold is more than 12 percent alcohol by volume.

Is it O.K to be on my phone if I’m alone at the bar?

Sitting alone at the bar enjoying a drink is one of life’s great pleasures, but please don’t sit on your phone while you do so. Being on your phone projects an attitude that you’re tuned out from the rest of the world. On top of that, the glow from your screen not only gives off an unflattering light, it also ruins the lighting and mood for others seated at the bar. My suggestion is to bring a book instead. It’s old-fashioned but people have been doing it for years, and you don’t look like a giant dick who’d rather be sitting at home in front of the TV.

Does 14 percent alcohol in a drink mean I’ll get 14 percent drunk?

No, no, no. The percentage of alcohol is not an indication of the level of intoxication you’ll feel, but instead the amount of alcohol in the drink. You can’t be 14 percent drunk or 65 percent sober. You’re either drunk or you’re sober. The higher percentage of alcohol in the drink, the quicker you’ll get there, but all alcohol can get you 100 percent intoxicated (and 100 percent in trouble if you choose to do idiotic things like drive after consuming it).

The post Ask Adam: What’s the Difference Between Malt Liquor and Beer? appeared first on VinePair.

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