Malt vinegar is one of those ingredients that you either know about or you don’t.
Truth be told, we originally had never heard of the stuff! But we must say, once we started researching more and more about this fantastic ingredient, it changed our lives completely!
That being said, as with any type of ingredient, there are either good brands to choose from and maybe some not-so-good ones. Luckily, reviewing products is what we do to ensure you get the best bang for your buck!
So, what are the best types of malt vinegar? First, start by choosing the type of malt vinegar you need (distilled, light, or dark). Then, the most important qualities to look at are the ingredients used to make it, the color of the vinegar, and the overall flavor profile. The color should be clean and without contaminants or fogginess, it should have a strong aroma, and the flavors should be acidic, slightly sweet, and unmistakably malty.
In today’s jam-packed article, we will be looking at exactly what malt vinegar is and all the different types you will come across. We’ll also include a very thorough buyer’s guide that will help you choose the best product for your needs.
And finally, we have also included our favorite malt vinegars that can all be conveniently found online!
What Is Malt Vinegar?
Before we get to malt vinegar, let’s have a quick look at what exactly the “malt” part is.
Malt is a term often associated with beer, probably because it is one of the most produced malt products. Malt is a type of cereal grain that undergoes germination and is then dried (a process also referred to as “malting”).
This process is what gives all types of malt products their incredibly rich, nutty, and toasty flavor.
So, malt vinegar is obviously then derived from malt—just like red wine vinegar is derived from fermented red wine.
Malt vinegar is most often made by fermenting ale, also known as “alegar”. Barley grains undergo the malting process and turn the starches inside the grain into maltose (malt sugar).
The ale is made from the maltose and processed to produce malt vinegar. This vinegar is then usually aged for a while.
The fermented ale gives the malt vinegar its distinctive mildly sweet and vinegary flavor profile. This ingredient definitely adds a ton of complex flavors and acidity to any recipe and will elevate the entire dish.
Malt Vinegar Varieties
There are three types of malt vinegar, each with its own extremely unique flavor profile, so be sure to choose the correct one when using it in any recipe—it can potentially make or break your dish!
Distilled Malt Vinegar
Distilled malt vinegars are processed (filtered) to remove any color in the vinegar itself, giving it a crystal clear color.
This vinegar is made with fermented barley-based liquids (like beer). Bacteria help break down the alcohol to create acetic acid. These vinegars have extremely strong acidity and flavor.
They are especially great when wanting to pickle fresh ingredients like baby onions, pickles, or beetroot. They can also be added to marinades and sauces and will help enhance the accompanying ingredients’ flavors.
And, what makes this version great compared to other types of malt vinegars is that its clear color will allow you to use it in recipes where you don’t want the color affected.
Light Malt Vinegar
Light malt vinegar has a pale amber color and has a much more neutral malty flavor. It is also much less acidic compared to distilled malt vinegar.
The light color is obtained when the product has been filtered, but not to such an extent as distilled malt vinegar.
This malt vinegar version is not really used for pickling because of its lack of acidity, so it works better in marinades, sauces, or dressings—or any recipe that needs a more subtle vinegar flavor.
Dark Malt Vinegar
Dark malt vinegar is what most people refer to when they talk about malt vinegar. It has an extremely deep dark brown color and a very intense malty flavor.
This color is obtained from the addition of caramel, which simultaneously adds more caramel-like flavors as well.
This version is extremely popular when served with fish and is also used to make pickles, sauces, dressings, and a wide variety of other condiments like chutneys.
Distilled Malt Vinegar Vs White Vinegar
It is very important to know the difference between distilled malt vinegar and white vinegar, as many people get these two confused because of their similar appearance. The main difference is the ingredients they are made from.
White vinegar is made from grains, whereas distilled malt vinegar, as we have mentioned, is made from barley.
White vinegar also has a much higher acetic acid content compared to malt vinegar, making it a much stronger acid. This is why white vinegar is used as a cleaning product.
And finally, of course, their flavor profile will also differ, not only because the one is much more acidic compared to the other, but also because they are made from different base ingredients.
So, now that you know about the different kinds of malt vinegars, how exactly do you choose one?
First and arguably most importantly, think about how you want to use the malt vinegar.
If you want an extremely acidic malt vinegar, distilled or dark will be your best bet. If you need something with a more neutral flavor, then go with light malt vinegar.
No matter which type you choose, it should always have a distinctive malty flavor (obviously the intensity will differ).
You should definitely look at the ingredients used to make any type of malt vinegar.
Water is also sometimes added to reduce the acidity of the malt vinegar, but it will naturally reduce the intensity of the flavor too.
Next, you should look at the color. Distilled malt vinegar should have a crystal clear color—anything less means it isn’t a pure product. The same goes for the other varieties. Their color should be clean without any contaminants.
Aged malt vinegars usually have a deeper color and more complex flavor. Even light malt vinegars can be aged.
Naturally, because of the time and effort put into the aging process, your price tag will go up, but if you enjoy that bolder flavor, then it’s definitely worth it!
For everyday use, choose light malt vinegar as it is the most versatile of them all. It has complex flavors, a semi-neutral color, and will work in most recipes, especially if you are new to using it or want to experiment.
If you’re planning on using malt vinegar for pickling choose distilled malt vinegar, especially if you want to add aromatics like spices and herbs along with it.
Dark malt vinegar can also work for pickling but the color of your products will change and it will have a caramel-like flavor to it.
The 11 Best Malt Vinegars Of 2021
No matter what you want to make, we have assembled a wide range of malt vinegars for you to choose from. Now you can make complex marinades, delicious chutneys, or a simple dressing for your fish and chips.
|1.||Heinz Gourmet Malt Vinegar||Best overall malt vinegar|
|2.||Sarsons Malt Vinegar||Has been matured in vats|
|3.||Crosse & Blackwell Old English Fish & Chip Vinegar||Packaged in glass bottle|
|4.||Four Monks Malt Vinegar||Is slightly diluted with water to help balance acidity|
|5.||Vermont Village Malt Vinegar||Made from Vermont craft beer|
|6.||Acclaim English Malt Vinegar||Comes in 1-gallon bottle|
|7.||Sarson’s Distilled Malt Vinegar||Can be used in recipes without any discoloration|
|8.||Supreme Gluten-Free Malt Vinegar||Great gluten-free option|
|9.||Holland House Vinegar Malt||Blend of light and dark malt vinegar|
|10.||Sarsons Vinegar For Pickling Malt||Great option for pickling|
|11.||London Pub Malt Vinegar||Pairs very well with classic UK foods|
1. Heinz Gourmet Malt Vinegar
Heinz is an extremely well-known condiment brand so it isn’t any surprise that their malt vinegar is one of our all-time favorites!
This is a type of dark malt vinegar that has a very full-bodied and pungent flavor profile and aroma. It gets its intense flavors from barley and corn malt.
One thing we both love and hate about this product is that it has been diluted with water to about 5%.
This naturally means that it has less intense acidity and malty flavor; however, it also makes it a much more versatile and everyday type of vinegar.
This dark malt vinegar has been packaged in a glass bottle with a very tight-fitting screw-on cap to help preserve the flavor of the vinegar for a long time.
It works extremely well with loads of seafood dishes, of course including the classic fish and chips, a wide variety of meats such as beef and lamb, and even some pasta dishes like macaroni!
2. Sarsons Malt Vinegar
This malt vinegar from Sarsons is made from roasted barley and barley malt extracts, meaning it has deliciously complex flavors and aromas too.
It has a very distinctive tangy flavor to it that pairs well with virtually any dish.
What gives it an even more intense taste and the color is the fact that this malt vinegar has been matured in vats.
Now as we have mentioned, this does increase the price a bit, but we would still highly recommend trying it!
3. Crosse & Blackwell Old English Fish & Chip Vinegar
This is another extremely well-known condiment brand that will give other malt vinegars a run for their money!
This 100% all-natural malt vinegar is packed with bold flavors that simply bring out the best in a variety of meats like lamb, beef, and even pork.
It will help create bold, rich, and drool-worthy sauces, marinades, and other condiments that will pair beautifully with any dish.
This product is also packaged in a glass bottle to help preserve the flavor of months, even years!
4. Four Monks Malt Vinegar
This premium California malt vinegar is somewhere between light and dark malt vinegar.
It has a deep golden color with a unique rich flavor that has just the right amount of acidity.
It has been diluted with water but is still acidic enough to be used for marinades and pickles.
This malt vinegar has been made in what the company calls “the old world tradition” of their founder, Guiseppe Bagnani.
It can be used as a perfect neutral vinegar for virtually any purpose. It has enough acidity to help tenderize meats, make pickles, but not too much to overpower sauces and dressings.
5. Vermont Village Malt Vinegar
This is a very dark malt vinegar made from Vermont craft beer. It has a ton of interesting bold flavors that is very unique compared to other malt vinegars.
The best way to describe it would be somewhat lemony with strong malt flavors and a touch of sweetness.
And, it has the perfect amount of acidity to cut through fatty and oily foods like fish, tenderize meats using marinades, and to help make pickles.
Because it has a very strong flavor and dark color, we would recommend using it with more mildly flavored recipes.
6. Acclaim English Malt Vinegar
Okay, so we had to include some type of bulk product seeing as malt vinegars especially aren’t commonly sold in big quantities.
This is a 1-gallon bottle of dark malt vinegar that will be perfect for restaurants, small businesses, or if you are planning on making bulk marinade, sauce, or pickle.
This is a very pungent, full-bodied, and rich vinegar with subtle undertones of toastiness. This comes from the barley and corn malt used to produce the vinegar.
This product has been diluted with water to 5 % to reduce the intense acidity. In our opinion, considering this is a bulk product, this is great as you can now use it for many different purposes.
7. Sarson’s Distilled Malt Vinegar
This is another great vinegar from Sarsons, but this time we are looking at a distilled malt vinegar.
If you can remember, distilled malt vinegars are extremely acidic with strong malty and rich flavors. What makes them unique from other malt vinegars is that they don’t have any color.
The lack of color means that you can use it in recipes without altering the color of the dish while still getting that strong malty flavor.
This distilled malt vinegar has been made using methods perfected by Sarsons since 1794! And, what makes the flavors even more complex is that this vinegar has been matured in vats.
This is a fantastic malt vinegar especially for making pickling liquids for fresh ingredients (to keep the color) and for dressings and sauces that need to stay light in color.
8. Supreme Gluten-Free Malt Vinegar
This gluten-free malt vinegar is made from a combination of millet, buckwheat malt, and gluten-free yeast.
Millet is a gluten-free grain that has become the go-to gluten-free alternative to wheat.
Buckwheat on the other hand is considered a pseudo-cereal and isn’t a type of wheat at all. It is also a gluten-free alternative that is gaining in popularity.
Not only does it make a fantastic healthy alternative to traditional malt vinegar, but also other traditional vinegars like apple cider vinegar.
9. Holland House Vinegar Malt
We would highly recommend this very neutral malt vinegar that is a blend of light and dark malt vinegar.
It has a rich golden color to it with a strong acidic flavor that is not too overpowering.
It definitely has that simple classic traditional malt barley flavor that pairs fantastic with fish and chips, but also a wide variety of dressings and sauces. Use this product to experiment with!
10. Sarsons Vinegar For Pickling Malt
So, while this isn’t necessarily pure malt vinegar, this is an amazing product to know about. This is a pre-made pickling liquid that uses malt vinegar as its base.
It has also been pre-flavored with a variety of natural spices to make your life even more convenient!
And, it also has a 6% acidity (perfect for pickling fresh ingredients) and you also don’t have to heat the liquid before using it to pickle!
And finally, if Sarsons haven’t already thought of everything, they have packaged this malt vinegar pickling liquid inside a glass pickling jar—so once you’re done, you can simply re-use the jar!
11. London Pub Malt Vinegar
And finally, at the end our list we have an extremely strong pick if you’re looking for great malt vinegar!
This London Pub malt vinegar is an extremely hearty, robust, and very malty dark vinegar that will elevate your recipe and can even be used as-is.
This certified kosher product has that authentic malt vinegar taste that pairs seamlessly with traditional British dishes.
If you’re looking to try this vinegar out for yourself, you can use this malt vinegar to top your fish and chips, a classic UK pub meal.
You’ll find that, along with salt, the bright tanginess of vinegar is a perfect addition to this iconic dish!
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