Malt liquor on the wine menu

November 18th, 2005 | Posted by Real Beer

Each Friday the Wall Street Journal helps its readers prepare for the weekend with a bit of advice about liquid refreshments.

Dorothy Gaiter and John Brecher are among the nation’s finest wine writers, and this week they look into Sauternes class of 2001, which is just being released. Sauternes, from the Bordeaux region of France, is the world’s greatest sweet wine, with good bottles starting at $40 at retail and prices rocketing higher. That’s a 750ml bottle, about 25 ounces.

This Friday the WSJ offers an alternative: malt liquors, served in 40-ounce bottles. The headline calls this Malt Liquor’s Moment and the story reports:

But in a few places across the country, malt liquor is having something of a cultural moment. It’s showing up on the menu of popular restaurants like Emmy’s Spaghetti Shack in San Francisco, where Mickey’s is served in an ice-filled champagne bucket. Some microbrewers, who pride themselves on their “craft beer” made with fancy ingredients, have launched their own lines of malt liquor: Pizza Port in Solana Beach, Calif., periodically makes its Brown Bag Malt Liquor, and Piece, a restaurant and brewery in Chicago, offers Dolemite, named after a 1975 blaxploitation film. There’s even a cadre of collectors who pay as much as $300 on eBay for rare specimens of the 40-ounce bottles — even empty.

There’s even a picture of Dogfish Head Brewery’s Liquor de Malt, including the paper bag it comes in.

Tomme Arthur, who brews the Pizza Port Brown Bag Malt Liquor, previously has pointed out that he asks to judge this category at the World Beer Cup and Great American Beer Festival each year.

“Some like to shun their past. Me, I embrace it,” he said.

[Note: The WSJ is a subscription site.]

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