Forays into the ethnic food aisles of supermarkets are guaranteed to result in odd bounty (at least for us boring white folk), particularly the Latin American sections. Perhaps it's because I'm from Australia and wasn't exposed to much Central and South American culture as a youth but I find much of the cuisine to be strange yet often delicious.
I'm not a soda fan but do enjoy the occasional beer and so decided to pick up a small six pack of Malta, a beverage that contains all of the necessary ingredients to make beer except but it is not brewed long enough to produce any alcohol. Malta actually originated in Germany under the name Malzbier ("malt beer") as a mildly alcoholic fortifying beverage (fermentation was stopped at an alcohol content of approximately 2%). It does contain high levels of Vitamin B and carbohydrates that are essential to the preservation of life and was certainly a good nutritional supplement during less opulent times. It's no wonder that it is popular throughout Latin America where temperatures are high and much of the population engages in strenuous manual labor.
Malta has the color of a stout but the similarities to beer stop there. The sugar concentration is so high that you can almost feel your pancreas kick into gear upon smelling a freshly opened bottle. There is a definite cereal component to the aroma but the sweetness is overpowering. The malted cereal component of the flavor was very prevalent in my initial taste but it quickly gave way to the sickening sweetness of the beverage and I couldn't detect the presence of the hops. Subsequent tastes were akin to swallowing mouthfuls of diluted molasses and I occasionally found myself gagging.
Despite the sickeningly sweet nature of the stuff, I think that Malta would be great to drink after an intense weight lifting session, perhaps mixed with something else to dilute it a bit. But for now, I think I'll be sticking with the occasional beer as the flavor is far more pleasant.