What Is a Malt Beverage and Why Should You Drink It?

What is a malt beverage is a question that is often asked among beer lovers, especially since there are different types out there. Over time, these beverages have evolved into different types, from non-alcoholic options to strong liquor.

What Is a Malt Beverage

This leads us to what you might be wondering, what is a malt beverage? Keep on reading our detailed guide to learn more about malt drinks, including the different types and how you can make simple ones at home. 

What Does a Malt Beverage Mean? 

A malt beverage or drink means any drink that is made with 25 percent of malts or more. The primary ingredient of the fermented drink is the grain of the barley plant, which has been malted before being processed. This ingredient is called malted barley.  

For alcoholic drinks, malt beverages typically have about 7.5 pounds of hops for every 100 barrels of beer. Malt drinks come in different types, so not all have hops or are even alcoholic. 

– Ingredients

The ingredient used to make malt is any seed or cereal grain, but for beer and other beverages, the common ingredient is barley malts. Malts are obtained from barley by soaking the grain in water to germinate it.

After that, it is dried with hot air. During this process, the malt develops sugar that will then be fermented into alcohol. Barley malt is usually rich in sugar. 

What Are The Types of Malt Beverages? 

The types of malt beverages include beer, malt liquor, malt scotch, milkshake, malt drinks, and malted beverages like malternative and maltini. All these drinks have different ingredients and alcohol levels, but the similarity is the main ingredient that they all share: malts. 

– Beer 

Beers are the most popular malt drinks because most of them are made with malt barley. Only a few beer lovers know that they are drinking a malted beverage when they are drinking beer because it is not common knowledge that the main ingredient is malted barley.


In the simplest form, beer is made with barley malts that is ground to bring out the sugars. It is then boiled and steeped in water, and this extracts all the sugar into a liquid called wort. The yeast is added to the wort for fermentation, and at some point, hops are added for flavor and bitterness too.

Keep in mind that not all beers are made with malts. Some beers are malt-free for gluten-intolerant drinkers. 

– Malt Liquor 

Malt liquor is often compared to beer since they have similar tastes, but the former has a much higher alcohol volume. This beverage is more common among the urban working class, so you can find it in sophisticated liquor stores in giant bottles. 

These liquors are usually made with sugars and corn, along with malt barley, and this gives it a higher alcohol content. At the same time, these liquors are more drinkable because of the sugar. This gives them less bitterness than most beers, especially ales. 

Legally, malt liquor is any alcoholic beverage made with barley malts and with 5 percent alcohol by volume or more.

– Malt Scotch 

Malt scotch usually includes whiskey or bourbon, and these beverages follow the same brewing process as beer. The main difference is that at the end, the liquid is distilled. This distillation process involves boiling the liquid to transform only the alcohol to vapor, not the water. The vapor will be transferred into liquid alcohol. 

Malt Scotch

Scotch and whiskey are always made with barley malts, so there is no need to add malts to the name. Also, there is a difference between scotch whisky, whiskey, and bourbon. The first one is whiskey but made in Scotland, while bourbon is made in Kentucky. Then whiskey is the general term for a distilled malt barley drink.

– Milkshake 

It might surprise you to know that milkshakes and malt drinks are a type of malted beverage. This is a non-alcoholic beverage and dates back to the 1800s when doctors were trying to feed unhealthy people malts. This is where Horlicks also came from, as it is made with malt powder and dried milk.

Milkshakes are often made with the malted milk powder, and this is what classifies them as malt drinks. They are often called malted shakes instead. 

– Flavored Malt Drink

Flavored malt beverages are drinks that are made with malted grains but also use natural, artificial flavors or colors to make them look similar to other drinks. These include wines, fruit drinks, cider, and colas. 

Flavored Malt Drink

Sometimes, they are called a malternative, like the Smirnoff Ice sold in the USA, alcopops, or maltini. Some manufacturers will also call their seltzers or hard soda as fermented malted beverages. In general, these flavored drinks are made with a malt base but then stripped of their malt character.

What Are the Malt Beverages Based on ABV? 

The malt beverages based on ABV are non-alcoholic, low-alcoholic, average alcoholic, and high alcoholic drinks. While some drinks have no alcohol, others can have over 16 percent of alcohol. Even though they have different alcohol levels, all of these drinks contain malts.

– Non-Alcoholic 

You can easily purchase non-alcoholic malt drinks; some are beer styles, while others are milk styles. The beer styles are basically beers that have no alcohol in them.

Non Alcoholic

Non-alcoholic beers are popular and made with malts. Milk-style non-alcoholic drinks include milkshakes, Horlicks, or malted milk

– Low-Alcoholic 

Generally, these are malt drinks that have a low level of alcohol. Low-alcoholic beers are also known as light beers, and they are usually lagers. You will also see malt beers, malzbier, and wine coolers. Wine coolers are usually made with barley malts, wine, and fruit juice. 

– Average-Alcoholic 

Different types of beers fall under this category too. Aside from that, you have malt liquors, which have an ABV of 5 percent and above.

Average Alcoholic

Malt beers also have an average level of alcohol. Alcopop is any flavored drink with a malted base, and they usually have a decent amount of alcohol. 

– High-Alcoholic 

There are many malt drinks that are made with a lot of alcohol. This often includes whiskey and scotch. Malt whisky can have over 60 percent of alcohol and is divided into single and blended malt whisky. Scotch whisky has an ABV of 40 percent to 46 percent, which is also a high level. 

What Are The Health Benefits of Malt Drinks? 

The health benefits of malt drinks range from protein and energy to soluble fibers and vitamins, although it depends on the type of malt beverage that you are drinking. Beer will have different nutrition facts from a milkshake, for instance.

Here are some benefits of drinking malt:

  • Malt drinks will keep you hydrated because they contain a large amount of water. This isn’t always the case because some alcoholic beverages are dry.
  • They contain important soluble fibers that will help you in digesting your food easily. 
  • Malts also contain a lot of energy-giving protein, so they will boost your energy when you drink. 
  • Malted drinks contain fiber, folate, potassium, and vitamin B6, which will reduce your risk of heart problems. 
  • It contains vitamins, starch, minerals, trace elements, and protein that reduce heaviness. 

How does malt impact your stomach? Malt impacts your stomach by improving digestive health because it supports bacteria that line the gut. It is a good source of soluble fiber and is good for the body.

However, at the same time, malt has added sugar, which is harmful in high amounts. It increases the risk of obesity, heart disease, and diabetes if consumed in excess. 


1. What Is the Difference Between Beer and Malt Beverage?

The main difference between beer and malt beverage is that malt liquor is only bottom-fermented; meanwhile, beer can be either bottom or top-fermented. It depends on whether you’re drinking ale or a lager. Also, malt liquors have more alcohol content than beers, and they don’t contain hops.

Malt liquors are usually sweeter too, and have a less smooth mouthfeel.


Malted beverages come in different forms and styles and with different levels of alcohol, so it depends on what you’re interested in.

With this article, you’ve understood the answer to the question “what is a malted beverage,” but here’s a summary:

  • Malt beverage is any drink that is made with 25 percent of malts and more.
  • These beverages are divided into beer, malt liquor, malt scotch, milkshakes, and flavorful malt drinks.
  • The drinks can have no alcohol or a low, average, or high level of alcohol.
  • Malt assists with hydration and digestion and is energy-boosting.

So whenever you’re having a beer or your favorite scotch, you should keep in mind that you’re drinking a malt drink. Even your favorite flavorful beer is a malt beverage!

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