Turning beer into vinegar is an ancient tradition, but we can thank the British for popularizing it. While most of Europe was focused on making wine and wine vinegars, the British were brewing beer and making beer vinegars. You’re probably familiar with these types of vinegars by their more common name: malt vinegar. You know, the one that you sprinkle on fish and chips. Once I owned my own restaurant, Greenhouse Tavern, which held hundreds of feet of draft lines, it was only natural to begin mass-producing premium craft-beer vinegars. This recipe cemented my sour legacy.
When you begin making this vinegar, you’ll want to keep in mind something important. After you mix everything together and as time goes on, you’ll notice a layer of what looks like gelatin growing on the surface. This is the mother of vinegar. Without it, the alcohol won’t be converted into vinegar.
Make sure to use a beer for this that is 6 to 12 percent alcohol by volume (ABV). And don’t use one that is too hoppy, or your vinegar will be bitter.
- Wash a 1-quart wide-mouth glass container in hot, soapy water, then rinse and dry thoroughly.
- Pour the beer into the container. Stir with a spoon to dissipate the carbonation, and then let sit for 30 minutes. You want the beer to be flat and not fizzy.
- Cover the container's opening with cheesecloth, securing it with a rubber band to keep out debris.
- Let the container sit in a cool, dry, dark place for 2 weeks. Then give the mixture a taste; if it's sharp, tangy, and sour (like other vinegars you've had), it's now vinegar (It's perfectly okay to taste; no pathogens can survive in either the alcohol or the vinegar.) If you prefer, you can also judge the progress of your vinegar by using pH strips; we shoot for a reading of 4 or below on the pH scale.