This page deals with Ales, Cider, Wines and Spirits - all under the guise of 'Brewing'.
Most country households brew some sort of alcoholic beverage - but without the specialist equipment, it tends to be a weak and watery brew. However, it is safe to drink and makes a pleasant change from Water or Nettle tea.
Small Ale - Take some grain - it really doesn't matter what - soak it, dry it, leave it a bit, crack it with a pestle and mortar - then add it to a big pot of water and boil it. Add some yeast and let it work for a few days. When you filter it - you have small ale. It won't keep for all that long and is less that 1% ABV. You won't get drunk on it, but a mug with dinner is good.
Hooch - Similar to Small Ale but made with fruit instead of grain. What ever fruit you can get, but make sure there are plums or wolfberries. Cut the fruit, boil it in water, then when it is cool - add form yeast. A few days later you get a fruity wine that is less that 1% ABV. You won't get drunk on it, but a mug with dinner is good.
The normal process uses a lot more water than cereal or fruit. Use less water for a stronger brew. The upside is more alcohol, the downside is much less of it.
Simple ales, wines and ciders (but not spirits) can be made in a Craft Workshop dedicated to brewing either Ale or Wine - it makes one or the other, never both. Processes use local ingredients and it doesn't need a professional brewer. Craft:Beer/Wine/Cider-Making 5 is enough. If the ABV values given below seem lower than you would expect - remember that modern drinks are made with specialist yeasts designed for higher alcohol. Historically, Bakers' yeast was used to start many fermenting processes.
Local Ale: Just known as Ale this beer is made with mixed grains and gruit instead of hops, it doesn't travel well, doesn't keep very well and is generally considered to be a 'quaffing ale' at about 3% abv. It is supplied to local bars, taverns, road houses, inns and restaurants - and is sold locally in bottles. As a by-product an ale brewery also makes the Small Ale that many town and city dwellers drink instead of the 'dangerous' water.
Cider: Cider is a cloudy alcoholic drink made from apple juice, in much the same way as wine is made. These local ciders are made with whatever apples grow locally, and the outcome can vary slightly in taste, colour and strength. It falls somewhere between ales and wines at a 5-6% ABV. Unlike ale, there is no real way to preserve cider - so it is always drunk locally and relatively young.
Country Wine: Strangely, there are no grapes involved in these country wines. Instead, a relatively standard mix of Morus Berries, Cloud Berries and either Plums or Wolfberries are crushed for their juices and then the combined juices are fermented to make a pink 'wine'. It has a slightly fruity taste and is 8 or 9% abv. It is, most likely, what you get if you order 'wine' in a restaurant or bar. Note
Aromatic Wine: Take some Country Wine, add in a secret combination of herbs, steep it for a while, then distil some of it and add it back to the basic wine. The distillation process will be basic, the distillate won't be very palatable and it won't be very strong - BUT it will strengthen the wine and stop it going off so quickly - meaning that it will last for a lot longer in the barrel. The flavour is 'enhanced' with a mix of herbs that are also supposed to help preserve the wine. Think cheap fortified wines such as Buckfast Tonic Wine, cheap Vermouth or a cheap Ginger Wine. The good thing about them is that they are cheap, can be stored for a long time and can be exported to other towns and villages in the region.
Prerequisites: Craft Workshop making Country Wine.
Fortified Wine: The first thing to note is that there are some expensive prerequisites for making fortified wine. If you have a brewery making good quality wine and a distillery making grappa, you can build a craft workshop to blend some of your output into a fortified wine such as Port or Sherry. It is the same basic process as Aromatic Wine - but it tastes good enough that you don't need to add all of those herbs. It travels well, lasts for hundreds of years and may, just, be the product that makes it into the wider market.
Prerequisites: Brewery making wine, distillery making grappa.
Breweries are just Masterwork Craft Workshops, specialized in making a particular beverage. These are, most commonly, named ales, wines, liquors or spirits and a MW Professional Brewer is required to run the brewery.
Ale: Named Ales are generally made from barley and specially prepared hops. Sometimes another type of grain or an adjunct added to the mix)) added to give it a 'unique' flavour. These named ales keep well and can be exported in bottles or barrels, to gain a regional reputation. Each named ale will have its own characteristic River Run is sweet and nutty , Poachers Pale uses specially prepared hops while Cheerful Delver Stout is a dark tangy ale.
Wine: Now we get to grapes - and you should probably plant a vineyard before you can start making wine. So long as you have a Professional Vintner, making wine is straight forward. Collect the grapes, squeeze the juice out and ferment it with yeast, strain it, clear it, bottle it and wait for it to be ready …. However, you are likely to making a'Vin de Primeur' (be it red, white or rose) that is intended to be drunk the year it is bottled rather than something that needs ageing in oak barrels for ten years. Realistically, it will be a light wine, easy to drink - and have a 'name' to mark it out. For example Red Roth or Mordane's Perlot.
Spirits: Distilled spirits, strong, fiery and good for the soul? Rather than making your own alcohol by fermentation, you take alcoholic drinks made in craft workshops and distil it. It is then be bottled immediately and sold as a clear liquor. Whiskey and Brandy need to be stored in barrels for a minimum of 3 years to get their colour and flavour. These raw spirits can be very rough, so most distillers add a light fruity flavouring to take the edge off of it and help it be stand out. Common flavours are Apple, Plum and Berries.
Prerequisite: Brewery making alcohol