In recent years, increasing attention has been paid to the use of renewable biomass for energy production. Anaerobic biotechnological approaches for production of liquid energy carriers (ethanol and a mixture of acetone, butanol and ethanol) from biomass can be employed to decrease environmental pollution and reduce dependency on fossil fuels. There are two major biological processes that can convert biomass to liquid energy carriers via anaerobic biological breakdown of organic matter: ethanol fermentation and mixed acetone, butanol, ethanol (ABE) fermentation. The specific product formation is determined by substrates and microbial communities available as well as the operating conditions applied. In this review, we evaluate the recent biotechnological approaches employed in ethanol and ABE fermentation. Practical applicability of different technologies is discussed taking into account the microbiology and biochemistry of the processes.