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Beer, Malt Liquor or Barley Wine?

I learned something last night that I simply HAD to share. Apparently, the term "malt liquor" does not only apply to crappy beers, typically found in a 40-ounce bottle (think Colt Ice).

No, apparently the difference between beer, malt liquor and barley wine is based on alcohol by volume (ABV) alone. Not kidding.

Here's the breakdown:

Beer is classified as such with ABVs of up to 5%. That's it. So if you're a craft beer drinker, you're most likely sipping on something that's classified as malt liquor or barley wine. If you're drinking Guinness Draught, you are drinking beer, technically speaking.

Malt liquor (which by the way, upon reading on any bottle, traditionally had sent me running the other way) is any brewed beer-type beverage with an ABV of 5% - 8.5%. As it turns out, most of my favorite beers are in fact, malt liquor. That goes for the luscious Hennepin I posted on yesterday, too.

Barley wine, finally, is any beer-type brew with an ABV of 8.5% or more. This means the my beloved Delirium Nocturnum officially qualifies as such.

I had no idea that the classifications were solely based on ABV. Interesting, indeed.


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