malt liquor

plural malt liquors

Definition of malt liquor

: a fermented liquor made with malt specifically : a strong, dry beer and especially a lager with a high alcohol content usually in excess of 5 percent and as much as 11 or 12 percent that is produced by adding ingredients (such as corn, rice, or dextrose) to malted barley to increase the level of fermentable sugar present in the wort

Note: Because hops are not added during the brewing process, malt liquor lacks the bitterness often found in many lagers and ales. Malt liquor is typically sold in 40-ounce bottles or cans often called forties and is often not categorized as a beer due to its high alcohol content.

Malt liquor is powerful stuff. It looks and tastes something like regular beer, but any thirsty drinker who confuses the two on a hot summer day will soon be made aware of his mistake.
The Washington Post

Examples of malt liquor in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Everyone is surrounded by soft twinkle-lights, and no one appears to be hiding a forty of malt liquor out of frame. Zoe Si, The New Yorker, "Some 2020 “Feel Good” Holiday Movies," 16 Dec. 2020 In San Francisco corner stores, Knight is wooed by bug-eyed bottles of malt liquor claiming to be replacements for therapy. Emma Grey Ellis, Wired, "Hulu’s New Comedy Woke Is Perfectly Absurd," 11 Sep. 2020 Bottles of malt liquor, pens and garbage cans all come to life, debating social issues. Scott D. Pierce, The Salt Lake Tribune, "Scott D. Pierce: Want to get ‘Woke’? New Hulu series will make you laugh while enlightening you.," 6 Sep. 2020 Holed up in snowbound western Massachusetts living off thin dining hall coffee and forties of malt liquor, the innocent-yet-ironic taste of the fluffernutter resonated with our homesick hearts. TheWeek, "The forgotten inventor of the fluffernutter sandwich," 2 May 2020 During a search of the Chevy, police found an opened container of malt liquor. John Benson, cleveland, "Arrested driver says drug dealer gave him the wrong order: Broadview Heights Police Blotter," 5 Feb. 2020 In the 1980s and 1990s, malt liquor manufacturers started targeting black audiences after a failed attempt at marketing the spirit to the white middle class. al, "Craft beer, hip hop, and the clout of Nappy Roots," 6 Oct. 2019 Nettle tea was ladled from an oil drum and 40s of malt liquor were passed around. Wes Enzinna, Harper's magazine, "Gimme Shelter," 19 Nov. 2019 Of course, the company may be most famous for its original drink formula, whose potent one-two punch combination of caffeine and malt liquor was ultimately banned by the Food and Drug Administration. Washington Post, "Four Loko hard seltzer might taste like cough syrup, but flavor has never been the point," 13 Nov. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'malt liquor.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of malt liquor

1693, in the meaning defined above

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The first known use of malt liquor was in 1693

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Cite this Entry

“Malt liquor.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 Mar. 2021.

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malt liquor


English Language Learners Definition of malt liquor

US : a type of beer that has a high amount of alcohol

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