Malta Drink – Non Alcoholic Malt Beverage from the Caribbean and Latin America

Malta Drink – Non Alcoholic Malt Beverage from the Caribbean and Latin America

Malta - Non Alcoholic Malt Beverage from the Caribbean and Latin America
Malta Bucanero in Cuba (Jon Griffin)

By Jon Griffin

Malta drink is a non-alcoholic beverage common in the the Caribbean and Latin America. It is basically unfermented wort. Traditionally, since this was treated as a foodstuff, no adjuncts were added. However, all commercial examples I could find, both in the US and in Cuba now contain Sugar of some kind, generally Molasses but also Cane Sugar. Historically, malta was used as food for children and the sick and has since become a mainstream beverage. Of course, the other soft drink companies have taken market share from Malta, but it is still a very popular drink. I got a prototype malta recipe from a friend in Cuba, and along with John Curtis (another Malta enthusiast), we decided to give it a shot. Here is the result of our Malta experiment.

BJCP Category: Specialty Beer
Skill Level:
All Grain
5 Gallons

Target recipe – traditional malta with no adjuncts:

  • 80% 2 row pale malt
  • 15% Crystal malt
  • 5% Chocolate malt
  • Original Gravity (OG) 14 Plato

Luisa’s Malta Mania (1st version)

Brewed on 3/16/2004
5.0 Gallon Batch (all grain)

  • 8 lbs Pale Malt (US 2 row)
  • 1.5 lbs Crystal 20 malt
  • .5 lb Chocolate Malt (350)
  • 13 oz Cane Sugar (Piloncillo)
  • 1.25 oz Liberty Hops 4.4%
  1. Mash In: Add 12.5 qts of water at 170.5 F Hold Mash at 158 F for 45 min, we wanted a lot of nonfermentable dextrins.
  2. Mash Out: Add 5.0 qt of water at 196 F Hold mash at 168 for 10 min
  3. Sparge with 3.39 gal of 168 F water
  4. Add water to achieve boil volume of 6.3 gallons
  5. Add hops for full 90 minute boil, there are no flavor or aroma additions.
  6. We also added the Cane sugar for a full 90 minutes.

The malta we ended up with is as follows:

  • 18 IBU
  • 1.040 Pre Boil gravity
  • 13 Brix Original Gravity (OG)

Since malta is a non-fermented beverage, there is no final gravity (FG).


The color was fine for a malta, but it had to much hop bitterness. This has now become beer by boiling the wort again to sterilize and added White Labs WLP002 (English Ale) yeast. Our final gravity (FG) was 7.5 brix. This made an awesome beer, Southern English Brown (BJCP category 10C) would come to mind immediately. I would not change a thing on this recipe for making this beer. Also, this beer was on tap at the 26th Annual National Homebrewers Conference in Las Vegas NV, for club night with the CUBA brew club. Anyone interested could try both the Malta and the Southern English Brown Ale.

Malta second batch recipe

We decided to boost the Cane Sugar to 2 lbs and cut back the hops to 6 IBU. We brewed on 3/16/2004

You can see the final version here.


Style Information

Name: Specialty Beer
Recipe Type: All Grain
Category: Specialty Beer
Category Number: 23
Style Letter: A
Style Guide: BJCP 2008
Type: Mixed
OG: 1.030 - 1.110
FG: 1.006 - 1.024
Bitternes: 5 - 70
Color: 5 - 50

Grains & Extracts

Name Amount Notes
Pale Malt (2 Row) US 8 lb Base malt for all beer styles
Carahell 1.5 lb
Chocolate Malt 0.5 lb Dark malt that gives a rich red or brown color and nutty flavor. Use for: Brown ales, porters, some stouts Maintains some malty flavor, not as dark as roasted malt.
Molasses 3 lb Imparts a strong, sweet flavor. Used primarily in stouts and porters.
Pinocillo 1.5 lb


Name Amount Alpha Acid % AAU Time Notes
Liberty - Whole 0.5 oz 4.4% 2.2 90

Mash Steps

Name Step Type Step Time Temperature
Mash In Infusion 45.0000000 158 F
Mash Out Infusion 10.0000000 168 F


Amount: 6.12 gallons
Water Description:
Time: 90 minutes
Target Batch Size: 5 gallons


Step Time Temperature Container Additions
Name: Amount
4 days 68 F
7 days 68 F
28 days 52 F


Estimated OG: 1.089
Estimated FG: 1.089
Actual OG: 1.010
Actual FG: 1.010
Bitterness: 6.6 IBU
Estimated Color: 36.3 SRM
Carbonation: 2.4 volumes

10 Responses to “Malta Drink – Non Alcoholic Malt Beverage from the Caribbean and Latin America”

  1. cuban1941


    can someone translate this recipe in plain english. Ej. mash in, mash out, hold mash, etc.

  2. beerguy


    If you don’t understand all-grain brewing, you will have a very difficult time making malta.
    Check out for more information.
    Sorry I can’t help more, but you really do need to know this to make the beer.

  3. Paul


    Beer Guy, My wife wants me to brew some Malta, she’s from Venezuela and loves the stuff. This will actually be my first all grain batch, so far I’ve only brewed from extract. So, it looks like the second recipe is a fermented batch. If I’m going to leave it unfermented, would you still recommend the 3 lbs of molasses and 1.5 lbs of Pinocillo sugar? I’m actually going to ferment it for a few days to get some carbonation since I don’t have a keg/carbonation setup yet. Although I might fully ferment some of it for myself.

  4. Jon Griffin


    Both batches are unfermented. I just mention that if you were going to make it a beer it would be an English Brown. Sorry for the confusion!

  5. Stephen


    Hi Beer Guy, we are looking for a contract manufacturer in the US, that could produce our brand of Non Alcoholic Malt drink under license. We currently produce and sell the brand outside of the US. Could you please advise?

  6. Jon Griffin


    I wish I could help, but I don’t know of any contract breweries doing this.

    I assume it needs to be in cans which really limits the number of places. I would try Coke, Pepsi, etc. since they are used to non-alcoholic drinks.

  7. Barry Walsh


    Hi Steven,

    We have a contract manufacturer in sth east asia interested in bringing a malta type beverage to market – if you get the chance pleas give me me a shout re same, thanks

  8. Jon Griffin


    I sent an email to Stephen with your contact info, hope that helps.

  9. Paul


    I’m the same Paul from the Sept 10, 2012 comment. I brewed the Malta and my wife said it was very good (I don’t care for Malta myself). It was my first all grain brew. I fermented and bottled a two gallons of it, though I didn’t age it in the fermenter. At 6 months it was tolerable, but after 12 months it’s pretty good. I think I’ll hold a few bottles back for 6 and 12 months more and see if it gets smoother. Thanks for the recipe.

  10. Jon Griffin


    Thanks for the update. Glad she liked it.

Comments are closed.