Darko Dawson Drinks Malta Guinness
On July 21, 2010 | 0 Comments

Several readers, including those I’ve met at various book club discussions, have been curious about a beverage that Darko Dawson can’t get enough of in WOTG and the upcoming CHILDREN OF THE STREET (COTS). It’s a carbonated malt soft drink called Malta Guinness. Much like beer, it’s brewed from barley and hops. Its rich dark brown color is similar to stout, but Malta is very sweet with molasses overtones. If you generally don’t drink soda, you might find Malta too syrupy for your taste. It helps to drink it ice cold, preferably with nice stack of ice cubes, which balances out the intense sweetness. If you’re diabetic, Malta will shoot your blood sugar over the top in a New York minute. Although I’m not a soda drinker myself, I do enjoy swigging down Malta whenever I’m in Ghana, where the heat radically alters the drink preferences I have in the States. I find Malta’s unique taste quite alluring (others politely call it “acquired”) and like Darko, I don’t drink alcohol and find beer itself vile.

Malta is most popular in the Caribbean areas of the world and in Ghana, Nigeria, Chad and Cameroon, as well as parts of Europe, especially Germany. Malta Guinness is brewed under license internationally. In Ghana, it looks like this:

Malta-Ghana

There’s also a canned version – at many retail outlets in Ghana, you can’t buy the bottled version to take away. You have to drink on the premises, as the bottles are sent back to the company and not thrown away. Great conservation and recycling idea, IMO.

Malta Guinness is no longer the sole malt soft drink in Ghana. There are now several “copycats” (at least four), just as there are multiple different brands throughout the world. In the States, many specialty and Caribbean/African stores in large metropolitan areas carry the beverage. The description of Darko slurping down Malta in WIFE OF THE GODS spurned the following thread in a posting on Chowhound.com regarding where the drink can be found in Los Angeles. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/648477

Others have blogged about Malta, having discovered it: http://robrohan.com/2008/05/09/guinness-soft-drink/

Because of its fortification with B vitamins and its implied if not proven health benefits, some think of the drink has having therapeutic properties. Take for example this post from a health/HIV forum: http://www.thebody.com/Forums/AIDS/Nutrition/Current/Q208920.html

Malta originated in Germany as Malzbier (“malt beer”), a malty dark beer whose fermentation was interrupted at approximately 2% alcohol by volume (ABV). According to a Wikipedia post, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malta_(soft_drink), up to the 1950’s, Malzbier was considered a fortifying nutrition for nursing mothers, the elderly or the ill. In the 1960’s Malzbier’s original formulation was replaced with its modern form of water, glucose, syrup, malt extract and hops extract, and by German law these now must be called Maltztrunk, or “malt beverage,” since they are not fermented. Germans still use the old term though, as well as affectionate nicknames like Kinderbier (“children’s beer.”)

Anyway, raise your ice-frosted, Malta-filled glasses, and cheers!