As promised a couple of weeks ago, I’m going to post teasers here for beer articles I’m writing for Taste T.O. and other sites such as Gremolata. The most regularly appearing of these will be my Beer of the Week column for Taste T.O., and here are the last couple of those…
While I’m usually inclined to reach for a nice dry Pilsner or a hoppy Pale Ale when the weather gets warmer, I can understand the increased popularity of fruit beers in the summer months. Their fresh and lively flavours are a reminder of the warm weather harvest, and the often complex combination of sweetness and tartness that is found in many better quality fruit beers can be quite refreshing on a hot day.
So it makes sense that the folks at Mill Street would choose to make a cherry beer as the first summer seasonal at their brewpub. (Although I suppose the fact that they had a raspberry beer available during the early spring sort of ruins the “summer = fruit beer” angle I’m playing up here, doesn’t it? Damn.)
When most people read the words “Malt Liquor”, the image that likely pops into their heads is homies in South Central drinking 40s of St. Ides, or perhaps the neighbourhood drunk slumped in an alley with a king can of Schlitz Red Bull spilled beside him. Either way, the beers that tend to be tagged as malt liquor aren’t exactly considered to be beverages of the highest quality.
Of course, the definition of “malt liquor” can vary depending on where you live. In some jurisdictions, any beer above a certain alcohol percentage must be labelled as “malt liquor” before being sold, meaning that everything from cheap, high-octane swill to elegant strong Belgian ales are considered to be in the same category in the eyes of the alcohol overlords.
As a beer style, however, malt liquor is generally understood to be a strong (usually 6% to 9% abv) lager that is most often brewed with the addition of non-barley adjuncts such as corn and sugar, and a very low hop content. The result is a sweet brew with very little bitterness and a strong alcoholic punch. The flavour and aroma are often unpleasant, with notes of everything from rotting vegetables to jet fuel, but such concerns are secondary in a beer that is simply intended to get the imbiber as drunk as possible, as quickly as possible.