All About Malta, a Carbonated Non-Alcoholic Malt Beverage
When the summer days come, it makes sense to pop open a nice, cold beer and relish in the refreshing taste. Or, perhaps you prefer soft drinks such as Pepsi and Coca Cola. But what if you could have something in the middle?
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Introducing Malta, one such non-alcoholic beverage that is similar to beer in many ways, but yeah so very different. Malta is soft beverage that is most popular in the Caribbean Islands.
So what is so special about Malta? Does the flavor only appeal to those with a specific palate? Is there more to this beverage than meets the eye?
What Is Malta?
Malta is a lightly carbonated malt beverage brewed from barley, hops and water. The dark coloring and bittersweet taste make it appear like standard beer, but it is considered non-alcoholic, and suited for all ages.
What turns Malta into a non-alcoholic soft drink is its processing stage. It all depends on how the factory uses the malt. Malt, by the way, is a type of cereal grain, similar to Barley. It is the basis for fermentation, used in various food products and beverages - like our favorite, beer. The extract collected from malt influences both the beverage's flavor and the enzymes that produce maltose, or malt sugar.
The amount of sugar makes all the difference. When making beer, leaving the mixture to ferment allows the sugar to convert into alcohol. When making Malta, the mixture is refrigerated before fermentation. Sugar conversion is prevented and transforms the final product into a carbonated soft drink.
It will smell like beer and carry the same taste, but the malt beverage won't get you buzzed anytime soon. In many ways, it’s kind of like a non-alcoholic beer.
The Origins of Malta
Although Malta is often related to the Caribbean and Hispanic communities, there are also traces of European origins.
Many people have considered Malta to originate from Germany, stemming from their version of Malt Beer known as Malzbier (NA Beer). Additional names like "Malztrunk" referred to malt beverages that didn't contain alcohol, and "Kinderbier" translates to kid's beer because kids could also enjoy the taste without being intoxicated.
Malta is also considered a popular drink in certain parts of Africa, with Nigeria responsible for creating the number one brand in its country. Apart from different countries, African communities mix theirs with condensed or evaporated milk to sweeten the taste.
However, the Malta malt beverage was popularized in North America by Puertoricans immigrants in the heart of New York City, known as Goya Foods. Goya is known for selling Latin products such as adobo and other kinds of seasoning. They also specialize in producing their brand of Malta and are considered one of the biggest Malta brands in North America.
The Top 5 Brands of Malta
You can buy Malta in several South American countries and Caribbean islands. With so much variety, it's hard to tell what the best Malta brand is.
But, we did the hard part for you and made a list of some of the best Malta Brands. Too bad they don’t sell variety packs of made up of all of the big global brands of the dark brown malt drink.
Malta Goya is one of the most recognizable brands in North America and is very easy to find in your local supermarket.
People who are health conscious and engage in physical activities stay active with this drink. It's a natural source of calcium with low sugar and no cholesterol.
Many would describe the taste as a sweet, nutty flavor that reminds them of caramel or coffee. It can be sipped straight from the glass bottle, or, served with a bland of ice and condensed milk to enhance the flavor.
Malta Goya does contain phosphoric acid. And, the brand sells Malta Goya in both a 12 oz bottle and 7 fl oz bottle, the latter of which are quite similar to Modelito and Coronita beers.
Buy Malta Goya
Malta India is popular with the inhabitants of Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.
It is known for its thick, syrupy texture and dark caramel color. The aroma is distinctive and heavy, with the smell of molasses lingering with every sip. It is also rich in high sugar content as it values sweetness over nutrition.
Puerto Ricans often pair Malta India with traditional dishes such as tostones, mofongo, and pasteles. Malta India could be a decent replacement for those who enjoy the taste of stout beers.
Buy Malta India
Malta India Light
Malta India also produces a light, low calorie, low sodium version of the drink. So look for that in markets and online stores (free delivery?) as well.
Buy Malta India Light
VitaMalt is a popular beverage that originated in Denmark but became popular in the Caribbean islands. Popular enough to find VitaMalt in most every store, its flavor toes the bitter/sweet line.
Compared to other Malta brands, Vitamalt contains high sodium and sugar levels, which is way more than your average diet soft drink.
The name "VitaMalt" and the attempt on branding it that way is probably to overstate the nutritional benefits of Vitamin B - which promotes good health, energy levels, and cell metabolism. Come to think of it, the name sounds an awful lot like Vitamix, the famous line of awesome blenders.
Praised for its energy-boosting effects, VitaMalt is a sponsored product all across the Caribbean. The logo alone is enough to suggest athleticism, health, and vitality. And, check out the 11.2 fl oz bottle size.
Malta Guinness is one of the most popular Malt beverages in Africa, specifically Nigeria.
It contains similar qualities to a Guinness stout beer, minus the booziness. A bit syrupy, Malta Guinness is made with less sugar and leans a bit more bitter than not. Also, it's the sponsored brand for Nigeria's National Soccer Team, which is kind of cool.
Malta Polar is a beverage popular within Venezuela and in certain parts of Florida. It’s a bit darker and thicker than some of its counterparts across the world.
Buy Malta Polar
Popular in Cuba. Another brand that sells Malta in a 7 fl oz bottle.
Buy Malta Hatuey
The Nutritional Benefits of Malta
Malta proponents claim that the drink has nutritional value and that it promotes good health. You know, as much as any soft drink out there really could. But is there some truth to that?
Vitamin B is prolific in Malta. Depending on the brand, and thus the amount consumed, Malta could play a role in the metabolic processing of fat, protein, and carbs. It might be able to regulate a person's appetite, improve eyesight and maintain healthy skin.
These drinks are also packed with amino acids responsible for muscle growth, hormone production, and the reproduction of your brain's neurotransmitters.
Studies have also proven that the hordenine compound found in Malt extracts boosts mood levels and overall improvement of mental health.
Malta can also be a good source of calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium, which are minerals that are necessary for good bone health. It shouldn't be a direct replacement for a healthy diet, but a moderate intake of Malta drinks could show impressive health improvement over time.
A quick disclaimer - don’t take our words for dietary advice though, let your doctor tell you what’s best for you. Read off the label’s product information if you’re unsure.
Is Malta alcoholic?
No, Malta is not alcoholic.
Is Malta Soft Drink named after Malta the Island Country?
No, the malt beverage is not named after Malta the country. But, Malta, the country, does in fact have a brand of Malta.
Should you drink Malta when pregnant?
It is unclear whether or not someone should drink a Malta malt beverage when they are pregnant. Once again, always check with your doctor before consuming anything new, especially when pregnant.
Malta contains a unique flavor that doesn't suit everyone's taste.