Making beer and wine at university

There was not quite the drinking culture of today's universities, but my student days required drink and there was very little money.  The solution was that we often brewed our own beer and sometimes made our own wine.  From Boots we bought the brewing kits containing a big tin of malt, a packet of yeast and one of finings.  We added sugar and water to the malt, then gently started up some of the yeast in warm, sugared water.  When it frothed nicely we added it to the brewing mix.  We used a large plastic tub that had once held cheap sherry and had the advantage that it had a tap low down.

The mixture would brew for maybe ten days.  When the frothing had subsided it was ready to bottle for its secondary fermentation.  We begged a few crates of stone topped bottles from the local brewery that no longer used them.  The bottles were filled, and a spoonful of sugar added to each before sealing.  We found that a 3-inch triangle cut off the corner of an envelope, with a small cut across the tip, made a perfect funnel for getting the sugar into the bottle.

The secondary fermentation took a few more days, and then the beer was ready.  It had to be opened and poured very carefully because there was sediment at the bottom that could easily be disturbed.  We became quite good at pouring the beer and leaving about an inch and a half with sediment at the bottom.

The good part was using the sediment residue to fill another bottle.  It took about 5 of them to fill another one.  More sugar was added before it was sealed for a tertiary fermentation.  The beer we brewed was quite strong, but these residue-brewed ones were stronger still.

We graduated to home-brewed wines, and made a German-style one with our own printed labels identifying it as Weisser Ritter (White Knight).  It tasted quite sweet as it was maturing, so we added stuff to make it dry.  This was unfortunate.  When it did mature it was astringently dry, having developed its own dryness.  It was undrinkable as it was, so we made it into a very successful party punch.  The dryness was still so pronounced that one of our friends angrily accused us of putting neat alcohol into the punch.