2012 Malt Vinegar Project – Store Bought.

In 2011 the hubs and I started down a path of interest in wild yeast and open fermentation. We have started several activities that are directly interconnected to these things. We have been brewing our own beer, which you can read about here, if you have not already. I also started some cider vinegar in October with unpasteurized cider from the farm. I also tried starting sourdough, three times, from wild yeast. All three ultimately failed, but I believe this was due to the cold temperatures in my house during the cold fall that we had. In November I started some cranberry vinegar with leftover cranberries from this amazing stuffing.

At the end of 2011, even more smitten with wild yeast and open fermentation I added some goals to my bucket list for 2012. One of these goals was to continue my vinegar project, but to make sure I blog about it so that everyone can get as motivated about yeast and bacteria as I am! Weird, right!

In any case, we wasted no time. On January 1 we started our first malt vinegar. This is a trial run and we hope to someday use our own beer to make this product. For this batch we used Guinness. We used the “mother” from the cider vinegar that has been fermenting since October. In one of the jars, the vinegar is almost completely evaporated at this point and the mother is quite large and in the other jar, there is still a significant amount of vinegar and another large mother. Our goal is to use this throughout the next several months to start more batches of vinegar, that we are actually going to use. This first batch really just turned into a mother growing endeavor, which is a great money saver as I have seen the stuff for quite a bit on the internet. Now we can use it to grow any vinegar we want. You can read about vinegar mother, here.

Malt Vinegar.


16 ounces of Guinness draught

1 large spoonful of cider vinegar “mother”


Open beer and leave it to sit on the counter for 24 hours. This takes the carbonation out of it. The next day pour it into your container of choice, make sure it has a wide mouth and is not metal. I use a glass jar. Add the “mother” and affix cheese cloth over the top of the container to keep the fruit flies out of it (This is a true reality of making vinegar, the fruit flies love it. I have found that 2 tablespoons of store bought cider vinegar with 3 drops of dish soap in it will catch all of the flies you can find. Just set it near the fermenting vinegar). Do not seal this, it needs oxygen and access to wild yeast and bacteria that will be in the air.

Place the container in a warm, dark place, like the pantry and allow it to sit for 6-8 weeks.

Stay tuned. I will be back with updates as this ages.


Filed under Beer, DIY, Fermentation and Yeast, Test Items

3 responses to “2012 Malt Vinegar Project – Store Bought.

  1. How neat. Cannot wait to see the results!

  2. Hi, stumbled across your post via Google. I am part-owner of a brewpub (Quay Street Brewing Company, shameless plug), I also dabble in natural vinegar & yeasts. I started messing with malt vinegar probably 4 or 5 years ago (?), and after about 2 years of playing with recipes & such have gotten to the point where I was happy enough with the result to actually put it on the table at the restaurant. I’ve messed with cider quite a bit (I have small orchard apple – pure nature, no pruning, no spraying, no mowing, no nothing) and the occasional berry fruit as well. If u have problems, weird stuff growing (it happens!), etc. and want somebody to to consult with, feel free to drop me an email. For your malt vinegar experiments, I suggest USE YOUR OWN BREWED BEER with higher alcohol levels and weak (alpha-acids, or just less) hops, most commercial beers don’t have enough alcohol to get a real good/tart vinegar and the hops are very antibiotic. Also shake or stir (vigorously) the ale/beer a couple times as carbonation (CO2) inhibits the vinegar bacteria — you want your ale/lager as O2 saturated, CO2 depleted, as you can get it! (A side benefit to this is that oxygen will combine with the hops and render them less antibiotic/anti-vinegar). I’ve also been experimenting with sour-dough starters and can offer the following tips: Use some yeast from your home-brew as part of the mix when you’re starting out, it’s a good way to kick-start that part of your starter, eventually (over weeks/months) as you continue feeding, the yeast culture will settle on some blend that may or may not include native yeast in the air and may or may not have your beer yeast; it can end up being a mix both genetically, and/or distinct symbiosis — it depends on your feeding regime and naturally occurring environment. For the sour part (back to vinegar and/or other acid producing bacteria), as you already know the natural occurring vinegar bacteria use the alcohol from the yeast, so for those, you have to be patient so the alcohol levels build to support the bacteria getting started (i.e. don’t over-feed (– the pull-off old starter, add-new flour/grain cycle), and definitely stir the mix — again u want the gasses in the starter to be atmospheric (more oxygen than CO2), stirring does that for you). I’ve found that if I want my starter to have more “sourness” a more liquid mix and waiting longer between feedings tends to kick mine up a notch, your mileage may vary! There are other acid producing (souring bacteria) that will take hold and produce non-vinegar acids (lactic), I’ve not researched them much so I don’t have any suggestions there – when I started my first batch I soaked wild apples in water and used that as my water for the flour. Not sure that is such a good idea as, for some reason (no scientific basis that I know of), i suspect waxy stuff on apple skin may actually have antibiotic properties (– why else would it be there than to protect the apple?) — the vast majority of internet comments using the fruit method seem to suggest using grapes, since they aren’t going to stay in there, you could use handfuls of fence-line native grapes. More on yeast: they reproduce differently depending on whether they are stressed or not-stressed, you can get genetic combinations going on when they are stressed; when they aren’t stressed reproduction tends to be a-sexual (no mixed genes) — so, once you’ve got a starter you like, stick to your feeding schedule to help the yeast stay true. Also, when just beginning, a thicker starter is easier to monitor for yeast activity as it will hold in the CO2 as it’s forming and cause your starter to rise — when I add flour/grain/water, I mark the level on the outside of the jar so I can watch for it to rise & fall before I feed again; with a thin consistency, the CO2 just bubbles out. Have fun. jeffaknaggs-at-quaybrewing.com

  3. Jeff, thank you for all of the great information. It is definitely in the works for 2012 to get more of this going on in our corner of the world. We are just now switching to all grain home-brewing, so we will focus on that first and then move into some more of our goals (i.e. growing our own yeast strains, using home brew for vinegar, etc), but this information will come in quite handy as we move forward. Thanks for visiting, perhaps someday we will make it to the brewery. Being from Southern MI, I have always tried to get the hubs to the Northern parts on our visits, but we never seem to have enough time. And I have to admit, my own trips to your part of the state have been quite limited. Thanks again for the information, you may hear from me in the future!

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