Liquor Laboratory

12 Best Malt Liquors You Should Try (2024 Edition)

Best Malt Liquor

With enthusiasm, I took on the daring task of blindly tasting different malt liquor brands to reveal the truth about these notorious beverages.

Let me be crystal clear – these drinks are a rollercoaster of flavors you can imagine; some may not be for the faint-hearted.

So with my team’s help, we bring you the definitive ranking from worst to the best malt liquor brand, solely based on taste, smoothness, and of course, overall quality.

Top 12 Best Malt Liquors You Shouldn’t Miss

12. Forty Ounce Muscadet

Man Holding Bottle of Forty Ounce Muscadet

Average Price: roughly $17/40oz (Drizly)

Alcohol Content: 13% ABV

Nose: Citrus hints and fresh floral aroma

Palate: Crisp and dry, with pleasant lemon acidity

Star Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

Why We Like It: We love pairing Forty Ounce Muscadet with salads and seafood during picnics because of its light and fruity profile.

11. Icehouse Edge

A Glass and a Can of Icehouse Edge

Average Price: roughly $2/24oz (Drizly)

Alcohol Content: 8% ABV

Nose: Strong malty aroma with subtle citrus hints

Palate: Malty, sweet, with the alcohol kick

Star Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

Why We Like It: Icehouse Edge is ideal if you aim to be intoxicated or want a buzz.

Malt liquor is seen as a cheap gas-station beer. But it couldn’t be further from the truth.” – Jonathan Newman, Brewmaster at Virginia Beer Company

This stuff is a cheap brand with a high ABV, making it an excellent outdoor party drink.

Read: Recommended Gas Station Alcohols

10. King Cobra

Can of King Cobra Malt Liquor

Average Price: roughly $3/40 oz (Drizly)

Alcohol Content: 5.2% ABV

Nose: Malty and rough aromas

Palate: Balanced sweet and tart flavors

Star Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

Why We Like It: King Cobra has a balanced taste that will fool you into intoxication if you drink too much. King Cobra is a perfect summer drink that does not give off any disturbing odor and goes down super easy.

9. Schlitz Blue Bull

Schlitz Blue Bull in Can

Average Price: roughly $6/4pcs (wine-searcher)

Alcohol Content: 5.9% ABV

Nose: Subtle malty aroma with sweet notes

Palate: Smooth but with a touch of bitterness

Star Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

Why We Like It: If you want a slightly higher ABV and more flavorful drink, go for Schlitz Blue Bull. This beverage brand has good carbonation and kicks, along with a creamy texture.

8. Bud Ice Lager

Bottle of Bud Ice Lager

Average Price: roughly $2/24oz (Drizly)

Alcohol Content: 5.5% ABV

Nose: Neutral smell

Palate: straightforward and mildly sweet with a touch of bitterness

Star Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Why We Like It: The affordability and slightly sweet taste of Bud Ice earned it a spot on our top malt liquors. It was one of our go-to brands, offering a high ABV, suave texture, and simple test, not worthy of being just stocked up on a shelf.

7. Mickey’s

Bottle of Mickey's Malt Liquor

Average Price: roughly $8/6pcs (Drizly)

Alcohol Content: 5.6% ABV

Nose: Fruity aroma

Palate: Slightly bitter with hints of malt

Star Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Why We Like It: Mickey’s is a cheap choice to give everyone a nice buzz. We usually mixed it with lemon and beer salt to make it more flavorful and pleasant.

6. Hurricane High Gravity

Bottle of Hurricane High Gravity

Average Price: roughly $3/25oz (Drizly)

Alcohol Content: 8.1% ABV

Nose: Sweet, malty, and boozy

Palate: Fruity and sweet, and boozy

Star Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Why We Like It: Like Olde English 800, Hurricane High Gravity is better consumed ice-cold. It’s sweet and flavorful, perfect for drinking and winding down on warm summer evenings.

5. Bud Light & Clamato Chelada

Can and a Glass of Bud Light & Clamato Chelada

Average Price: roughly $4/24oz (Drizly)

Alcohol Content: 4.2% ABV

Nose: Tangy, with tomato and spices

Palate: Zesty and crisp with Clamato juice taste

Star Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Why We Like It: Blending beer with tangy tomato and spices for a zesty taste, Bud Light and Clamato Chelada is a refreshing summer choice for Bloody Mary lovers. But how many Bud Lights can get you drunk?

4. Steel Reserve

Can of Steel Reserve Malt Liquor

Average Price: roughly $3/24oz (Drizly)

Alcohol Content: 8.1% ABV

Nose: Fruity, hoppy, malty

Palate: Crisp, balanced, slight bitterness

Star Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Why We Like It: Artistically featuring the medieval symbol of steel, Steel Reserve is a malt liquor brand with a punch of extra malted barley and select hops.

Steel Reserve has a balanced profile and subtle bitterness.

3. Colt 45

Man Holding Bottle of Colt 45 Malt Liquor

Average Price: roughly $2/24oz (Drizly)

Alcohol Content: 5.61% ABV

Nose: Corn, hops, and bread

Palate: Malts, citrus hops, and herbal notes

Star Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Why We Like It: Colt 45 malt beers have a rich history since 1963. It brings in a nostalgic and classic summer beer experience for anyone.

But what’s the best liquor to drink straight?

2. Famosa Lager

Man Holding Bottle of Famosa Lager

Average Price: roughly $40/24pcs (Drizly)

Alcohol Content: 5% ABV

Nose: Delicate aromas and grassy notes

Palate: Robust, with mild sweetness and bitterness

Star Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Why We Like It: Famosa Lager has a medium mouthfeel that surpasses most of its counterparts and even some beers.

We like how it’s surprisingly clean with a faint bitter aftertaste that we often serve for outdoor gatherings and parties, like Olde English.

Read: Beer vs Wine Alcohol Content

1. Modelo Chelada

Cans of Modelo Chelada

Average Price: roughly $21/12pcs (Drizly)

Alcohol Content: 3.5% ABV

Nose: Hints of tomato and spices

Palate: Flavorful and refreshing

Star Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Why We Like It: Delicious and vibrant, Modelo Chelada perfectly captures the lively flavors of a Mexican spirit just in time for the summer.

“Summer’s malty magic, refreshing nostalgia, irresistible flavors in every sip.” – Liquor Laboratory

The tomato flavor complements the spices well, and with a bit of beer salt and fresh lime, you’re off for an exciting taste adventure. Check out Chelada vs Michelada here.

 Note: The star rating was determined based on a blind test, with 1 being the lowest and 5 being the highest rating. Each product was evaluated on its overall quality, flavor profile, complexity, smoothness, and overall enjoyment.


What is the strongest malt liquor?

The strongest malt liquor can reach up to 15% ABV. It is usually around 4.5 to 8.5% ABV, but some brands can have higher alcohol content, making it stronger than beers [1].

Is malt liquor better than beer?

Malt liquor is better than beers if you want a cheaper and sweeter alcoholic drink with a higher ABV.
It is brewed with a higher malted barley percentage and adjuncts like rice or sugar, which alter its taste and boost its alcohol content. But what does malt really taste like?

Is malt liquor stronger than vodka?

Of course, malt liquor is not stronger than a bottle of vodka. As a type of beer, its average ABV is around 8%, while a bottle of vodka is about 40 to 50% ABV [2].

Why is malt liquor often considered stronger than regular beer?

Malt liquor generally has a higher alcohol content than traditional beers, often ranging from 6% to 12% ABV (alcohol by volume), compared to the average beer which typically falls between 4% to 6% ABV.

What are some popular brands of malt liquor?

Popular malt liquor brands include Colt 45, Steel Reserve, Olde English 800, Mickey’s, and Hurricane High Gravity, known for their availability and affordability.

Why do some people prefer malt liquor over other beers?

Some individuals may prefer malt liquor for its stronger alcohol content and sweeter taste, which can provide a quicker and more potent buzz compared to standard beers.

Can malt liquor be enjoyed in different ways?

While malt liquor is commonly consumed straight from the bottle or can, it can also be used in mixed drinks or as a base for beer cocktails, adding depth and complexity to various recipes.

Is malt liquor available in different flavors or varieties?

While traditional malt liquor tends to have a consistent flavor profile, some brands may offer flavored variations such as fruit-infused or malt-based beverages to appeal to different tastes.

Final Say

Our team agreed that the vibrant and lively Modelo Chelada stood out among the malt beers we evaluated.

Malt liquor, usually sold in a large can or bottle, is heavily marketed to minority communities. It became extremely popular in the market from the moment Billy Dee Williams was hired as Colt 45’s brand ambassador.

Then more iconic ads followed, with some having questionable taglines like, “Get your girl in the mood quicker/ Get your Jimmy thicker / With St. Ides malt liquor,” by Ice Cube.


  1. The Sleazy and Spectacular History of Malt Liquor
  2. Alcoholic Beverage
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