I walked into my local nottle shop earlier this week and heard my name called. “We got your beer, the one you asked for.” It could only be Founders’ new release, DKML Imperial Malt Liquor. Sure as shit, there was four-pack sitting on the top shelf with the exact price that the brewery recommended when I first read about it almost a month ago.
Well, whaddya know. Founders made a malt liquor. Visions of Billy Dee Williams instantly come to mind. Malt liquor has been around for decades and has been reduced to those plastic, screw-top 40-ounce bottles down at the bottom of the beer store’s cooler.
I have never had malt liquor before and thought it would be a good idea to get a sixer or four-pack or however they come in order gain some taste experience in general and to provide a comparison to the beer at hand. But try to buy Colt 45 or Schlitz Malt Liquor and you’d be hard pressed to find them. I couldn’t find any in town and I wonder if they even make ’em anymore.
Three beverage names have always given me thought. Ginger Ale is not an ale, while Ginger Beer is also not an ale nor is it a beer. Both are soft drinks, although ginger beer is fermented, it usually has less than .5% alcohol. Look here. Malt Liquor is not liquor but a beer. It’s brewed with more corn than malt but is not called Corn Liquor. And Certs is two mints in one. So many deceptions. We’re not here to debate names. We’re here to drink beer. Or is it liquor?
I really didn’t know what to expect with this DKML. I didn’t even know what the letters stood for. What I know is that most malt liquors vary from 5% to 8%+ alcohol and that the one I had here was about twice that. 14.2% alcohol. I had better be careful.
With desk chair seat belt fastened, I uncapped the first bottle.
Poured straight into a shaker glass, the liquid looked like your traditional yellow beer. The head came up loosely knit and then diminished to some slight foam coating the surface of the beer. Carbonation consisted of tiny micro-bubbles with a few larger ones scattered here and there. The aroma was slight, smelling a tad bit like sweet hops.
The fist sip made me wince. Holy shit this stuff is strong! A bonfire instantly started in my stomach. Big mouthfeel, big sweetness and a whole bunch of fusel alcohol. Pick one: acetone, magic marker, rubbing alcohol. Mix it with a beer and you have this DKML. I’ll admit though, that the second sip was less intense, but it still gave me a bit of trepidation about finishing this glassful and starting another just for the sake of taking pictures.
I’ve had my fair share of high alcohol beers, DFH’s 120 Minute and World Wide Stout, Sam Adams Utopias and Founders’ Devil Dancer. All of those beers at least tasted like beer more or less. DKML tastes like a shot and a beer all rolled into one glass. The alcohol taste is so overwhelming that it detracts from the flavor of your basic malt liquor.
The base beer is an overly sweet concoction with hints of wood from the aging in bourbon barrels. Any other slight flavors are masked by the alcohol. Personally, I see no good reason for this beer to exist. With the proliferation of various 40s from various breweries, malt liquor in and of itself is designed to give the drinker the cheapest drunk quickly. DKML does it on a much grander scale.
One does not have a patio party and offer guests this beer. It wouldn’t make sense. Quite possibly, the first sip would get spat out, not that it tasted bad, but rather that it would be too strong for the palate. Maybe both. I bought this beer out of curiosity and with the intention of advising craft beer drinkers of the pros and cons of DKML.
I discovered from a few sources what the DKML letters stand for; “Dick Kicker Malt Liquor.” It does stand up to the name because that’s what it does. Buy this beer if you are curious as to how it tastes. You may wind up giving two of the bottles away.
I really didn’t like this beer and had trouble choking down the last few ounces. There is no comparison to any craft beer styles other than the other malt liquors. I doubt that there are any malt liquor connoisseurs out there and if there are, They’re all sitting on the front porch or wherever, chatting up their opinions of the bottle they each have in their paper bag.
I can proudly say that I have tasted this beer, bag or not. I also have to give Founders some credit for having the balls to actually brew this beer and putting it up for sale. Please exercise caution when having more than one 12-ounce bottle of DKML. You have been warned.
Style: Malt Liquor
Taste: Too sweet, with a shitload of alcohol taste.
Smoothness: The alcohol will rasp after a while.
Bang for the buck: Depends on how you feel when you buy it.
Amount paid: $14.99 for a four-pack of 12-ounce bottles.
Get it again? Nope.
Wife’s all-encompassing opinion: (The wife begged off tasting based on two facts: “malt liquor” and “14.2%.” She chickened out.)
What is malt liquor? [3:42]
DKML review by Draft Therapy [12:11] – if interested.