Ok, it's time to share one of my little passions with you guys - home brewing. I've been doing this for a couple of years now so I thought I would post a little beginners guide and help everyone out!
Right, so if you want to start your own home brew you will need:
A big ass fermentation barrel (40 pints ~ 23 litres ~5 gallons for the oldies/americans). Easily available for less than £15.
Some flexible tubing (just cheap, it only has to be about 1-2 metres long).
A kettle - and if you need a picture to know what this is then I pity you.
A tap that will give you water.
2 kilos brown sugar (white works too, but brown always seems to be tastier in the end).
And depending on whether or not you want to move your beer after, either a barrel with a tap - upwards of £20
Or 11 plastic 2 litre bottles - make sure they had fizzy drink in so they can withstand pressure. I used tesco sparkling water for about 14p a bottle.
And last but obviously not least, the ingredients. Now you could make your own, but if you are like me and a student, the easiest way is simply to buy what's called a beer kit - basically some syrup you pour hot water into and put in your barrel, it comes in tins. I find that bitters and ales work best, lagers tend to be a bit sharp, but if you want value and taste then go for a Youngs kit.
The actual method varies slightly from kit to kit, but as a general rule of thumb this works:
Stand the can in hot water for a few mins to soften it.
Boil 3-4 litres of water (6-7 pints) and pour it into the fermentation bucket thing.
Pour the can into the bucket.
Add your kilo of sugar, stir a lot - I recommend a large plastic spoon.
Add 19 litres ish of cold water/33 pints/ fill your bucket to near the top
Stir for a while
Add the packet of yeast that came with the beer
Put the lid on, put the airlock on
Leave it somewhere at room temp and DON'T MOVE IT for about a week
Now get your silicon tube, put one end in the bucket and suck it to make beer start coming out, and fill your barrel/bottles with not very tasty yet beer!
Add a teaspoon of sugar for every litre/2 pints liquid (roughly), then put all the caps on, then leave it completely alone for around 2 weeks, although the longer you wait, the nicer the taste ;).
Now, you have 40 pints of beer! Stick it in the fridge for half an hour and grab a pint, well done.
I feel I must point out that you need to thoroughly clean everything between batches - I put it in the shower and shower gel it to death.
Also, be sure to pour your beer carefully. You will have some sediment in the bottom, and this will be easily disturbed - possibly the main advantage of a barrel is the fact that you don't have the sediment issue (buying one with a floating tap helps even more).
I found absolutely everything I needed at wilkinsons, and at a very good price (no I'm not sponsored by them, I wish I was) or the internet is always good.
I hope you enjoy this if you do try it out, and experiment - the smallest details do make a difference in the taste!