There is something truly Revolutionary about making your own beer. 'Legal' alcohol contributes to the tax systems which fund police search checkpoints and out of control, police-power lobbying groups like Motherfuckers Against Drunk Driving. Voluntarily paying liquor tax is an attack on all of our freedoms and a corporate victory.
Brewing requires a well sterilized container with a water sealed vent so outside air can't enter, but CO2 gas can escape, preventing a pressure explosion. If you don't have a water bubble valve, a cork or cap drilled for a pen tube hot glued or caulked tight works, but tape a pricked condom or balloon for a the one way CO2 gas valve.
Equipment costs are cheap, often between $100 and nearly free depending on your thriftiness. Supplies cost about $20 for approximately 5 gallons of brew. Along with some instruction, you can very easily brew a batch of [Insert Name Here]'s Pigfuck Ale!
You just need a starch base, such as ground whole wheat, malted barley, cornmeal or other grains. Add mash or unpreserved juice, some good beer brewing yeast for the fermentation, and hops for taste. If you depend on natural air yeast or fail to sterilize properly, it may end up with a basement/wet dog/sock background flavor. A few unwashed grape skins are a natural source of yeast in a pinch.
Wait until after the bubbles stop and pour the brew in clean bottles. Keep an eye on how hard clean, recycled, plastic soft drink bottles are for a week or two after bottling, in case the fermentation is not finished. Release a bit of pressure as needed to prevent bottle explosions.
And remember, there is nothing dangerous about making your own brew. The stories about people going blind or dying were over-embellished prohibition-era stories about moonshiners making hard liquor in their car radiators made with lead solder and contaminated with antifreeze, or crooks spiking the alcohol level with cheap poison wood methanol.
Read Joseph Coppinger's 1815 guide The American Practical Brewer and Tanner for more detailed information.
Fruit wine is easiest, beer more difficult to get right, and distillation is dependent on your fermentation for quality.
Water is important. If you can't get uncontaminated water, buy spring water.
Cleanliness is important, especially with beer. Sterilize everything and work in a clean open area with sunlight. Basements tend to stain a musty flavor to beers.
Hops preserve and adds a bitter beer flavor, but don't over use them. Use the green buds, or some marijuana.
You can get away with using bread yeast if stuck in a Muslim or Mormon area, prison, or 15, but a better result and higher alcohol content are achieved with brewing yeast for your beer or wine.
Get good one-way relief valves. If you don't use a valve or release the pressure you will have a pressure explosion. If air enters your bottle it will begin to convert your alcohol to vinegar and introduce unwanted yeasts, bacteria, or molds.
Your first few batches may go bad, especially when brewing beer, especially when skimming instructions. It's not poison, just tastes funky. Don't give up though, find a friend or brew club that can help you.
Cider can be brewed with almost no equipment or prior experience because any sugary or starchy fruit, vegetable, or liquid without preservatives can be fermented. Obtain some sweet, overripe, fruit and berries and a cleaned milk jug with pinholes poked into the lid. Bruised or over ripe apples are large, free, and easily pressed so get these or some frozen juice concentrate.
Blend or mash about 1/3rd of a gallon of fruit, add 1/3rd of a gallon of water and a whole packet of bakers yeast, and shake it up. Seal the jug except for the gas vent and store in a cool area for a few weeks in winter or even a week in summer. Filter the pieces out first with a strainer, and then a coffee filter to get rid of the yeast flavor. Ta Da! Home made cider.
Apple jack is where you can get in trouble with the feds. To jack the cider let it freeze outside or in your freezer and keep the liquid. This doubles the alcohol percentage of your cider.
You can make an easy to brew kind of improvised liquor (more like a crude form of rum), with no more than water, a cup of sugar, and bread yeast. Pour half a cup of sugar into an average, 710 ml (24 US ounce) pop bottle, fill up to the top of the label, leaving some head room for it to foam, and put in the yeast. Good proportions are 1000 ml (33 fl oz) water, 400 g (14 oz) sugar, 100 g (3.5 oz) yeast. Keep your hooch at least at 10 °C (50 °F) but better temperatures are around 22-30C(70-85F) for at least 2 weeks.
Make sure the yeast is activated first! To activate the yeast, just mix some warm water, yeast and a few teaspoons of sugar in a cup and wait for it to foam up. You could take the chance on the yeast activating once added, but I wouldn't you risk some other culture taking over.
Leave the cap on loosely enough that the gas very slowly escapes, or poke a hole in the lid and cover it with a single layer of clear scotch tape. This is to prevent the bottle from exploding on build up. If the bottle has gone a day or two without any escaping gas give it a final spoonful of sugar and place a regular cap on about 12 hours before chilling if you want to let it carbonate and serve within a few days. If stored unwatched, there is a chance it may ferment further and burst the bottle.
Wait at least 3-5 days even in summer with high alcohol tolerant fast or turbo yeast for fermentation or you will get very little sugar to alcohol conversion. The alcohol content is quite strong after about two weeks when all the sugar has been converted, up to 40 proof content at times.
Allow as much yeast as possible to settle to the bottom then run it through a paper coffee filter if you want to reduce the yeast flavor, as some get upset stomach from the yeast. Other ways to improvise a filter include stuffing a nylon stocking or cheese cloth into a cut off bottle and using it as a filtration funnel. Do not ruin a camp water or Britta filter by trying to use them because the yeast will quickly clog the filtration elements. A used pitcher-type filter element might be opened and stuffed with a new nylon stocking for a stealthy easy to use a cleanable filter.
In Finland they call this drink "kilju" and students, punks, and the poor illegally brew and drink it. It became popular after the early 90's depression there. The ingredients can be commonly found in any kitchen, or bought by a six year old without raising an eyebrow. The end product, when well filtered, is flavorless like watered vodka, but can taste like a cheap, yeasty, boring beer when not. You can always ferment several bottles if you are planning a large gathering. A pocketful of change for sugar and yeast yielding several gallons of alcohol is not a bad deal, even if the hooch has very little flavor.
When brewing higher proof you start with a good wine or beer culture in packets. This yeast takes longer, but produces a more alcoholic brew. A fast yeast or even the bread yeast in a packet and fruit juice will make a batch of wine, which will leave a good hangover, in less than a week, even quicker in warm weather.
If this is not concentrated enough drink get a kettle with a narrow spout or a pressure cooker with the jiggle valve on top, food grade tubing, marbles or shiny aquarium pebbles, and a metal 3-4 liter olive oil can(or other food grade container). Connect the tube to the kettle spout or jiggle valve tube and run the tube into the can filled with pebbles. A hole punched into the bottom will drip liquor into your container. Never use non-food grade containers and especially auto radiators, they may be soldered with lead solder and are contaminated with antifreeze. This has been known to kill people. Keep the kettle liquid temp between 78 and 100 Celsius degrees in the kettle. Throw away the first 10-15ml, as this can contain dangerous levels of methanol as it boils at a lower temperature. With practice and mixing other ingredients, very nice liquor can be produced in your own home. People know the first and last bit of the fermentation liquid, or "heads and tails", as the junk and usually this is thrown away.
Freeze distillation plays off the difference in the freeze point rather than the boiling point of alcohol and water used in steam distillation, taking advantage of alcohol's very low freeze point. Ethanol is sometimes even used as antifreeze for specialized applications because of this property.
It is pretty simple to ice-still if you have a good freezer, or the weather is well below freezing set it outside at night, the colder the better. Just take your plastic bottle of beer, kilju, hooch, or fruit wine and throw it in the freezer. Never use a glass bottle as it can break should you forget and let the stuff freeze solid. You can repeat the freeze distillation process several times to further concentrate your shine, although at some point you will reach the lower temperature limits of your freezer and be unable to get more ice crystals to form. If the alcohol level is low you may end up with a slush, allow this to warm up a bit and pour off the higher alcohol liquid.
Keep the bottle upright and only 3/4 full so an ice plug doesn't block you from pouring off the concentrated alcohol. Check every 30 min to see the progress of ice crystal formation. When about half of the bottle contents are crystallized collect the higher alcohol liquid and discard the ice.
If what you produce has a very harsh flavor, try filtering it several times through a brand new "Britta" style carbon filter cartridge, or a carbon refill for an inline home drinking water or aquarium filters. This will also mellow cheap store-bought rotgut liquor too. This method only with spirits like whiskey, gin and tequila, not wine or beer. Some artificially colored spirits, like very cheap whiskeys, may come out clear.
For detailed information on distilling, read Samuel McHarry's 1809 guide The Practical Distiller, available for free download here:
If you are brewing your own we bet you are going to drink some, especially if you are young and in a large group, this is for the morning after.
Most of what is known as a hangover is the effect of organic volatiles and other natural agents that are present especially in cheap distilled alcohol combined with the results of metabolizing the alcohol and sugar plus good old dehydration. The best cure is to chug several liters of water as you imbibe. If you fail to heed the hydration advice drinking large amounts of water the morning after still works to treat a hangover.
The headache is best knocked out with your favorite aspirin or other OTC headache pill although crushing it is easier on your stomach, you can enhance the effect with caffeine. Indeed, even some crushed aspirin powered cocktails are sold in convenience stores under the brand names Goodies and BC powders.. Have a soda ready to chase this stuff as it is are utterly vile tasting. An energy drink to chase this works really good as well to give you an energy boost. While it will not rid you of the general fatigue, at least you will not have a pounding headache.
This page only outlines the simple and easy ways to brew liquor. Buy a book and do some research to make a tasty brew or shine! Don't sweat the disgusting failures we all have, keep trying. More importantly, don't waste your precious time constantly drunk or hung over and useless to the fight!
Hard Cider - http://www.citypaper.com/eat/story.asp?id=19640
The Home Winemakers Manual (Off-line, but archived) - http://home.att.net/~lumeisenman
How To Make Wine In No Time, The Cheap Way - http://ingeb.org/junk/wine.html
How To Make Wine Out of Common Household Items - http://www.warpbreach.com/6/6.html
Make Your Own Pruno and May God Have Mercy On Your Soul (This is utterly vile-tasting stuff often made secretly in prisons.) - http://www.blacktable.com/gillin030901.htm