Dogfish Head Brewery is taking malt liquor upscale, complete with corn and brown paper bags.
The Delaware brewery – known for innovative beers such at 90 Minute Imperial IPA and Midas Touch – sold out the limited edition run with distributor pre-orders. The 600 cases (12 bottles to a case) should reach retail shelves in late June. The suggested price for Liquor de Malt is $6.99 per bottle.
“Traditionally the malt liquor beer style is defined by cheap corn added to cheap beer for a cheap but stronger in alcohol product,” the company states in a press release. “The style has always thrived in urban markets. Dogfish Head has attempted to redefine the style.”
Corn is usually used as an adjunct to barley by big breweries, in part because it is cheaper and also because he helps maintain a lighter body despite a relatively high alcohol level. Liquor de Malt is 7% abv, and uses three kinds of corn.
“Our malt liquor is made with Aztec Red, Taos Blue, and Hickory Corn. Red, white, and blue, just in time for Independence Day. These are high grade, gourmet corns and the difference is noticeable in the taste,” said Dogfish Head president Sam Calagione.
Liquor de Malt is likely the first commercial bottle-conditioned malt liquor. Every bottle is dosed with yeast which referments in the bottle and naturally carbonates the beer. “This natural carbonation makes for finer bubbles and a more luxurious mouthfeel. Most Malt Liquors our pasteurized which extends shelf life but neuters the taste of the beer,” the company said in its press release.
Liquor de Malt will be sold only in traditional (for the style) 40-ounce twist-cap bottles. Every case comes with twelve, hand-stamped brown bags. Dogfish Head had to shut down the normal bottling line for four ten-hour days just to get six hundred cases of malt liquor packaged.
One distributor refused to order the beer. “Our Milwaukee distributor said no on the grounds that they thought the concept of a high-end malt liquor would offend ethnic members of their salesforce,” said Calagione. “I told them it was their loss and if they tried the beer they would see that we nailed the style and customers would love it.”