malt liquor vs beer

Malt Liquor vs Beer – What Are The Differences?

Have you ever been out and about looking for a drink with friends, and noticed malt liquor or beer? Some people are confused by these two beverages, as they do share some similarities. However, malt liquor and beer are not the same things, and you should be aware of why. 

Do not get confused next time it is your turn to bring the alcohol to a party, and see why one or the other is better! 

What Is Malt Liquor?

Malt liquor is often referred to as a higher alcoholic content beer, any beverage made with malted barley that contains 5% alcohol or more. To obtain a higher alcoholic content, more fermentable sugar content is added. 

This alcoholic beverage is often light brown to amber in color and has a strong aroma and flavor. Malt liquor is usually made with inexpensive ingredients, like corn, rice, and dextrose. Specialized enzymes are also part of the fermentation process to increase the alcoholic content. 

Unlike some beers and other alcoholic beverages, malt liquor is very cheap, partly because its ingredients are also inexpensive. In the United States, malt liquor is often sold in containers of 40 ounces and colloquially referred to as “forties”. The price varies from state to state, but some malt liquor may be as cheap as $1. 

Nutrition Facts

One bottle serving size (1184 g) of malt liquor has the following nutritional content (*): 

  • 474 calories
  • 0 g water 
  • 4.14 g protein
  • 0 g fat
  • 0 g carbohydrate
  • 0 g fiber 
  • 35.5 calcium 
  • 35.5 mg sodium 
  • 59.2 mg magnesium 
  • 154 mg phosphorus 
  • 391 mg potassium
  • 47.4 µg folate 

Is Malt Liquor Good For You?

Malt liquor is not good for anyone’s health. Like any other alcoholic beverage, it can cause severe liver damage and other health problems in the long-term. However, one malt liquor beverage every once in a while is not too harmful to your body. 

This alcoholic drink contains a lot of calories per bottle, mainly because it also contains higher alcoholic content and fermented sugars. 

Malt liquor is not a good source of fiber, protein, or vitamins. However, this beverage does contain some minerals, like calcium, magnesium, potassium, and sodium. 

For malt liquor to remain somewhat nutritious and beneficial, the maximum recommended amount is one glass a day for women and two glasses a day for men. Any more than these amounts and the alcoholic beverage will begin to be detrimental. 

When people consume malt liquor in excess, there is weight gain, fat deposits, increased risk for heart disease, liver damage, and more. 

As you can see, though, malt liquor still provides certain micronutrients. This beverage can be a good source of minerals, which can help your body continue to work efficiently. For these amounts to remain safe, there must be moderate consumption as well. 

Unlike other alcoholic beverages, such as distilled alcohols, malt liquor has a relatively low alcoholic content, which is safer. In comparison to beverages like vodka, gin, or whiskey, malt liquor remains relatively healthier and can cause less damage. Still, some brands of malt liquor can contain up to 15% alcohol content. 

By now you should know that alcohol is not a good source of nutrients, but it can hurt your body if consumed in excess. One gram of alcohol provides 7 calories, so beware of the amount you put in your body too. 

Malt liquor may be safer than other alcoholic drinks, but it can be detrimental if there is no control over the amount consumed. 

What Is Beer?

Beer is one of the oldest drinks in history, and it is consumed widely across the world. Beer is brewed from cereal grains, such as malted barley, wheat, corn, and rice. The fermentation of sugars results in alcohol production and carbonation. 

These days almost all beer is brewed along with hops, which add flavor and stabilize it. You can also find a beer that is brewed with other ingredients, including fruits, herbs, and other foods, like chocolate or coffee. Commercial beers are often brewed in massive tanks and carbonation is forced rather than natural.  

Most beer contains around 4 to 6% alcohol content, but some modern beers may have as little as 0.5% or as high as 20%. There are many types of beer, including ales, lagers, stouts, Kolsch, and more. 

You can find bigger beer companies that produce several types of beers, but you can also find microbreweries that bottle or can only a small number of beers per year.  

Nutrition Facts

One bottle serving size (360 g) of a common ale beer has the following nutritional content (*): 

  • 155 calories
  • 331 g water 
  • 1.66 g protein
  • 0 g fat
  • 12.8 g carbohydrate
  • 0 g fiber 
  • 14.4 mg calcium 
  • 14.4 mg sodium 
  • 21.6 mg magnesium 
  • 50.4 mg phosphorus 
  • 97.2 mg potassium
  • 21.6 µg folate 

Is Beer Good For You?

Just like malt liquor, beer is not necessarily healthy for our bodies. However, it is more nutritious and safer than other liquors. Consuming beer in moderation can be a great way to prevent any damage to the liver, heart, and other organs in the body. 

Beer has been around for thousands of years, and it was a source of nutrients for humans for many years. It is now a recreational drink and does not provide significant nutrients to our diets. Still, it contains a good amount of minerals per 12-ounce bottle. 

Unlike malt liquor, beer can be lighter in calories and alcoholic content. The nutrient density depends on the type of beer, but if you want to stay healthy you should choose a light beer or ale. 

As with malt liquor, the amount of beer per day should be one glass for women and two glasses for men. 

Beer can be high in some nutrients, especially minerals like potassium, calcium, magnesium, and potassium. These are essential for our daily diets and can be beneficial for our bodies to work more efficiently. However, certain people need more or less of these nutrients. 

In contrast to malt liquor, beer will always contain hops these days, which makes it a little bit healthier too. Hops work in preventing bacterial growth during the fermentation of beer, but they may also reduce the risk for heart disease, reduce inflammation, and fight oxidative damage. In other cases, the added sugars and flavorings may impact the health benefits that beer has. 

In conclusion, beer can be healthy for you if you drink it responsibly. You should also choose one that is lower in alcohol content and calories. You can safely drink beer if you continue to hydrate and limit the amount per day.

What Are The Key Differences Between Malt Liquor and Beer?

The first difference you will notice between malt liquor and beer is the ingredients that each has. Malt liquor contains barley and water and cheap ingredients like corn, dextrose, and rice. Beer contains barley, hops, Brewer’s yeast, water, and other additives for flavor and aroma.  

Another difference between these two alcoholic beverages is the percentage of alcohol. Malt liquor tends to have a higher alcohol content due to the addition of more fermentable sugars. Beer has less alcohol, usually within the 4 to 7% range, though new beers may be more alcoholic. 

When it comes to flavor, these two are also different. Malt liquor is sweet because of the corn and dextrose, but it is also very subtle. Beer has a unique bitter flavor thanks to the hops, but it may vary from sharp to sweet or sour thanks to other ingredients added. 

The production of malt liquor and beer is also very different. Malt liquor is made by fermentation that only uses the sugar content in Brewer’s yeast. Beer can be made by top and bottom fermentation that results in the production of alcohol and carbonation. 

Finally, malt liquor is different from beer in terms of price. Malt liquor tends to come in 40-ounce bottles that are very cheap and sold in convenience stores. Beer is more expensive and the price varies depending on the style of beer and the brewery. 

Main DifferencesMalt LiquorBeer
Origin England and North America England and Germany
Aroma Sweet slightly gas-likeDepends on the hops used, usually aromatic and bitter.  
ColorLight yellowDepends on style, but ranges from light yellow to black or dark red. 
Price Between $1.50 to $3Start at $2.50 and can go up to $20 or more
Taste Sweet and lightFlavor varies depending on the style of the beer but can be light and sweet, very bitter, acidic, or neutral. 
How To CookNo cooking timeNo cooking time
Calories per 100 gram serving40 calories43 calories

Is Malt Liquor or Beer Healthier?

It is safe to say that both of these alcoholic beverages can be detrimental to a person’s health. However, because beer is made with less sugar and contains hops, it is considered healthier. The difference between the two is in the quality of their products and ingredients, which makes malt liquor the less nutritious option. 

While malt liquor only has 40 calories per 100 grams, the serving size is around 1184 g and contains 474 calories. Generally, beer comes in 360-gram serving sizes that contain about 155 calories. There is variation in caloric content depending on the brand, but for the most part, beer has fewer calories. 

It may seem like malt liquor is more nutritious because it contains higher amounts of micronutrients, but the high caloric and high alcoholic content outbalances the rest. 

Beer is more nutritious given its lower caloric and alcoholic content and the fact that it can come in the “light” variety. 

No alcoholic beverage is healthy, but beer can be nutritious in moderation and accompanied by a wholesome diet and lifestyle. Malt liquor is more inexpensive, but this is a sign of ingredients that are not nutritious. If possible, you will always want to go with beer first.

See more: Do beers go bad?


Do not be confused anymore when you see malt liquor and beer at the grocery store! You can now safely choose one or the other knowing exactly what they are and what they can offer you. Choose one or the other, but remember to drink alcohol in moderation!

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*image by dadophotos/depositphotos

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