There are several varieties of Malt Vinegar available which include distilled, light and dark malt vinegar. Distilled Malt Vinegar, which may also be referred to as spirit vinegar, is colorless, very sharp in flavor, and mildly aromatic. Since it is clear in color, it is most often used in stronger more acetic sauces or for pickling foods where there is a need to retain the existing colors in the food being pickled. The clear vinegar assists with the maintaining the appearance and color of the foods being pickeled for foods such as pears, cucumbers or onions that need to keep their natural white colors rather than displaying tints of brown. When used for pickling, the Malt Vinegar should contain at least 5% acetic acid.
Light Malt Vinegar has a pale amber color and a mild flavor. It is often used for marinades, salad dressings, sauces, and food dishes requiring a milder but tangy Malt Vinegar flavor. Most often this type of Malt Vinegar becomes a substitute for use in various foods when a less acetic or lighter malt flavor is desired.
Dark malt vinegar, also known as brown malt vinegar, has a dark brown color and a stronger flavor than light malt vinegar. The dark brown coloring is derived from the addition of caramel to the vinegar. This type of vinegar is a common seasoning used for the popular English food known as "fish and chips" which is enjoyed with the addition of this tangy more intense vinegar flavoring. It is also used in condiments, for pickling and is a common ingredient in various chutney sauces.