Our friend the Saccharomyces yeast
One morning you will wake up and they will have taken your money, your guns, your wife, your computer, your freedom and everything you value, however, there is someone, always by you, that will let you keep(and lose at will) your dignity as long as you keep him as your friend.
His name is Saccharomyces. It is a distant relative of yourself that lives everywhere. On your food, on the air, on your skin, in your guts. He enjoys all sort of sugars and will reward you if you give him some.
Saccaromyces is a yeast, cerevisae is his first name. He usually lives sits alone drinking sugary beverages and spawns some copy of himself when he feels like it, but once in a while he gets lucky and he isn't in a position to say no to wild sex. While yeast can have a healthy and boring life on oxygen and sugar, he can live and thrive on sugar alone. And believe me, both you and him will have a happier life if he does.
If you want to get to know him, keep reading.
The byproduct of Saccharomyces' anaerobic metabolism is Ethanol, yes this is right, instead of taking a leak after a beer he will leak the beer for you to drink.
You possibly already knew that, what you maybe didn't know is that you don't need to buy your friends. You can make friends easily if you know how.
The best way to make a yeasty friend is to open up a sugary self-service. This is as easy as making a water-flour mix and letting it sit somewhere and waiting until saccharomyces comes. You should stir it regularly throwing away a bit and adding up more food until he makes it his own place. You will know because the mess will become a foamy mess and the uninvited dangerous customers will die a painful death thanks to our friend's ethanol. You can speed the process up by adding some raw fruit to the mix. It is likely that yeast is already living in or on the fruit. Once you have got it stabilized and free of dangerous freeriders, you can use this mix to start your parties. You can store it in the refrigerator. Saccharomyces will just go to sleep.
Note that you don't need this at all if you ferment sugars that are likely to have Saccharomyces in them already like fruit juices or honey but it will significantly improve your chances of success. A single barbarian will have a hard time hacking through all your must and might die in the hands of some high level bug; a ship full of berserk barbarians will quickly annihilate everything.
As you don't know what kind of Saccaromyces you have befriended, you should test the waters with two test beverages. Mead is the basic BREWING101 for both you and the yeast. Honey is almost pure glucose so it makes a great food for your friend, and it is easy to regulate. You should make two honey-water solutions, the sweetest one should be at grape level sweetness(A), the other one should be significantly less sweet than that, yet still noticeably sweet to taste(B). Take note of the amounts you use so you can reproduce the results if they are successful. You can use any kind of bottle but you must be able to keep air from entering. If you use plastic bottles they will expand and almost never explode(usually they lie and throw up the mess if you leave the gas production unchecked) as long as you regularly release the CO2 your friend exhales. A safety device is usually better than that.
You don't want your friend to catch some nasty infection from alien bacteria or to live a boring oxygenated life, so what you do is you give him a condom. He is too small for human condoms, but the bottle you use will likely be endowed enough. Religious people will open a pinhole so that some CO2 escapes, others just change the condoms when they are full and give the CO2 to their pet plants or algae. It is very important that whatever happens air never comes in. Unless you want vinegar.
So 24h after setting it up the mix will be foaming and your friend will be having great orgies. Now you have to wait. In a few days there will be just a few bubbles going up. At this point most sugar should be alcohol, but if you are a man you want to wait until fermentation is 99.9% over and a dry drink is left.
Some yeast will have died of too hard sex, others will be sleeping at the bottom of your mead. OK, now you take the mead and bottle it in a glass bottle and put it into the refrigerator. Take care, *do not* put your friends into the drink, leave them sleeping at the bottom, we are not cannibals and they will upset your stomach. You can throw them away so they can find some new friend or you can mix them back into your starter after checking they don't have any infection.
Wait a handful of days, and try the two beverages. B should be completely dry(ie not sweet), if A is dry as well you have a winner friend, keep it. You can use B class yeast for ales and mead and A class yeast for higher alcohol drinks like wines. It is important to know the potential of your yeast to avoid overfeeding. Nobody likes a sugary ale.
Okay so you know how to make mead, what do you brew next? Sky is the limit, any carbohydrate under it will turn into a good drink. Juices are the lowest hangin' fruit, but anything will do, sugary cornflakes, syrup, a sugar solution, anything that isn't good for diabetes mixed with water, is good for your friend and for you.
Your friend the Saccharomyces will have a hard time swallowing starch and other big sugars though. You should turn it into maltose first. There are three ways to do that, the lucky way, the hard way and the gross(and arguably harder) way. The lucky way is: You leave your steamed rice somewhere and it gets infected by another friendly being(Aspergyllus orizae) that turns its starch into sugar. The hard way is: You get some cereal grain to sprout, you bake it, you heat it slightly in water to allow for full conversion, and then boil it and get the maltose juice out. The gross way is: You grind the base(this can be anything with starch in it) put it in your mouth and spit it soaked with saliva. In 24h the amylase in your saliva will have turned the starch into maltose, you boil that and, voila, maltose syrup. It might be gross, but the end result is the same and has the lowest requirements. If you only get bread and water in your jail menu, you can still brew ale using this method and a bit of luck.
As you see, Saccharomyces never leaves you. Even in your hardest times he will be there to make you a bit happier.
Here's to you Saccharomyces Cerevisae!
-You will not die for drinking a fermented beverage that tastes good unless you literally drink liters of it in a short time.
-Even if it tastes like vomit it isn't likely that you die. This isn't games/hack.
-Some methanol will be produced in very small amounts, especially if you include fruit material or wood. Incidentally ethanol is the recommended treatment for methanol intoxication. So, no you won't go blind.
- In fact successful fermentation doesn't need perfect protection from air, but you will be safer if you do protect your mix.
- Sanitation of your tools is good but again not necessary if your yeast is healthy. Once it starts doing its thing, the evil bacteria will die. Just don't use dirty "bacteria started" tools.
- Bread yeast is A class(see above). It is the right yeast and it can brew wines. And no, it doesn't taste like bread if you don't drink the yeast. If you need this guide you can't go shopping for brewers' yeast anyways.
- Remember, for gods' sake, do not drink your friends!