Beer Vinegar

In the last place Bill and I lived, we were just around the corner from this wonderful little consignment shop that always had all kinds of interesting things for sale. I am genuinely amazed at the fact that, more often than not, I would go in there looking and manage to NOT buy something. It’s truly the kind of place that could drive one to spend a small fortune there on a regular basis.

However, what I was prone to buying there was anything both kitchen-y and “weird.” Which is how I ended up with this piece of ceramic on a wood stand.

A beige ceramic vinegar crock, with plastic spigot, on top of a wooden stand. Foreground is a small glass bowl with a tiny amount of a brown, hazy liquid - vinegar.

So, see, I’ve actually wanted to make my own vinegar for several years now. And, no, I don’t know why I’ve wanted to. I just have. It started when I was in Chicago and this wonderful hardware store near my first place was also a wine-making store. The owner gave me his family recipe for red wine vinegar. And I never (thought) I had a place warm enough to make it. So… I never did.

But now I had a vinegar crock. But the cork and spigot it came with had dried out completely. It clearly was no longer liquid-tight. I eventually solved that problem, with the help of the fine folks down at F.H. Stienbart, so it was finally time to attempt to make vinegar.

Only… I no longer really cared if it was red wine vinegar. What I actually wanted, I realized, was to turn beer, wine, and the occasional cider I didn’t finish into vinegar. Beer I hated. Beer I had to drink a sample of for this or that reason, but that meant opening a full can/bottle. Wine that was tasty one night, but oxidized into something I didn’t like. Partial growlers that went flat on me. Whatever.

So, I dumped in some old beer and, on Erica’s advice, a thing of apple cider vinegar complete with its mother into the tub. And I waited. And I waited. And I moved and waited some more. And I dealt with the fact that it smelled of horrors beyond describing for a very long time. I added to it occasionally, but mostly didn’t.

And then, exactly a week ago, I pulled some off and tried it.

It’s stupidly good, guys. My friend Mari tried it straight last night and said, “This could almost be a sipping vinegar.”

I’ve finally made vinegar. And it’s really, really, really good vinegar. And the crock smells good these days. I mean, good like vinegar, not good like flowers, okay?

I don’t think I ever want to, again, not have my own homemade vinegar. Though if it attracts too many fruit flies (it hasn’t attracted any yet), we’ll see if I change my tune.

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