High-alcohol malt liquor is an inexpensive lager beer which typically has a higher alcohol content than other beer, ranging from 6-10 percent alcohol by volume, as compared to 4-5 percent for regular beer. Malt liquor is often sold in large containers, such as 40-ounce bottles, which are sold chilled and wrapped in a brown paper bag, facilitating immediate and public consumption. One 40-oz. bottle of malt liquor (sometimes called a “40” or a “Bumper”) has nearly as much alcohol as a six-pack of regular beer, but sells for a fraction of the cost. Some malt liquor brand names are Colt 45, Olde English, Steel Reserve, Hurricane, and Mickey’s.
Recent research regarding the consumers of malt liquor suggests: a) African Americans are twice as likely as whites to be malt liquor drinkers1, b) malt liquor drinkers are more likely to be homeless, unemployed, and receiving public assistance than regular beer or hard liquor drinkers2, and c) malt liquor’s low price may attract younger drinkers3. The disproportionate use of malt liquor by African Americans, low income individuals, and youth is of concern because the consumption of malt liquor has been linked with problems such as heavier drinking and illicit drug use4.
Fortified wine is wine to which alcohol (spirits) has been added to boost the content to around 15-20 percent alcohol by volume, as compared to 9-15 percent for other wines. Inexpensive fortified wine, sometimes known as “bum wine” or “hooch,” is commonly associated with street drinking and chronic inebriates. Some brand names are Night Train, Thunderbird, Cisco, Wild Irish Rose, and MD (“Mad Dog”) 20/20.
Local communities have sought restrictions on sales of high-alcohol malt liquor and fortified wine due to their association with nuisance crimes such as public drunkenness, public urination, loitering, panhandling, vandalism and broken glass, as well as with more serious crimes such as assaults and robberies. These consumption-related behaviors can have a negative impact on the quality of life in neighborhoods and increase the burden of law enforcement.
1Greenfield TK, Brown-Taylor D, Bond J. Ethnic subgroups consumption of malt liquor beer and fortified wine, based on the Year 2000 U.S. National Alcohol Survey. Presented at: 24th Annual Scientific Meeting of the Research Society on Alcoholism. Montreal, Canada, June 23-38, 2001.
2Bluthenthal RN, Brown Taylor D, Guzman-Becerra N, Robinson PL. Characteristics of malt liquor beer drinkers in a low-income, racial minority community sample. Alcohol: Clin Expl Res 2005 Mar; 29(3):402-409.
3Chen MJ, Paschall MJ, Grube JW. Motives for malt liquor consumption in a sample of community college students. Addict Behav 2006; 31(8):1295-1307.
4Collins RL, Bradizza CM, Vincent PC. Young-adult malt liquor drinkers: prediction of alcohol problems and marijuana use. Addict Behav 2007; 21(2):138-146.
Problems related to malt liquor sales
- Public consumption
- Public inebriation
- Harassment of pedestrians
- Broken glass, litter, graffiti
- Public urination and defecation
- Property damage
- Petty theft
- Underage drinking
- Driving while intoxicated
- Auto accidents, fatalities
- Illegal drug use
- Gang problems
- Sexual assaults
- Shootings, homicides
- Pedestrian accidents
Some stores that sell malt liquor:
- Sell it too cheaply
- Sell to intoxicated persons
- Sell to minors
- Also sell single cigarettes, drug paraphernalia and pornography, creating a bad atmosphere
- Create a base for drug dealers and open-air drug markets