What Is Malt Vinegar?

If you've ever been to a place with fish and chips on the menu, malt vinegar is a good condiment to know and love. Malt is the term for germinated and dried grains of barley, used in adding a rich, nutty, toasty flavor to some of our very favorite things. Like beer. And milkshakes. And the vinegar we copiously shake onto fish and chips (which is made with beer batter and therefore also contains malt).

What's really great about malt vinegar is that it's made directly from ale, just like red wine vinegar is made from wine. When the booze is ready, it's fermented until it's vinegar. The result is a milder, sweeter, and more complex flavor range than plain white vinegar, which is just acid and water. Besides being a versatile condiment in the British fried food world, malt vinegar makes a great gastrique or simple salad dressing mixed with olive oil and fresh herbs.