I'm making a character who lives in a large desert city. He's a brewer of ales and wines by day and a ninja by night. I'm trying to find a more in depth explanation on how making alcohol would work in game but have had no luck. If anyone out there as run into similar problems or knows a solution I am open to any suggestion.
Dragon #334, Drunkards & Flagons: Fantasy's Deadliest Spirits, describes the history of brewing and gives rules for making various special brews with beneficial effects.
According to this article, beer as brewed in the historical middle ages is generally made from barley, mixed with heated water and left to ferment, strained, boiled, mixed with yeast and hops or spices, then left to ferment further.
The exact fermentation times would vary by brew and are not specified in this article, but the time taken to create something of value in D&D is covered by the Craft skill. Normal ale, being very much a "typical item" by mediaeval standards, has a craft DC of 10. According to the Player's Handbook, ale costs 4 sp per gallon, and according to the Dragon article, it is typically brewed in batches as large as one barrel holding 150 flagons, an amount equal to approximately 45 gallons.
Therefore, to craft a batch of ale would initially cost 60 sp in ingredients. It's not strictly necessary to break this down into individual ingredients, but Arms & Equipment Guide page 31 has a list you might use. The main ingredient is barley, costing 1 gp per pound (surprisingly expensive compared to wheat, 1 cp per pound). Common spices might include anise (3 cp per ounce), cinnamon (1 gp per ounce) or ginger (10 gp per ounce). However, the prices of such ingredients vary considerably by climate, season, and local economics.
You roll a DC 10 Craft (brewing) check, and if successful multiply the result by 10, and do the same each week until you reach a total of 180. A check result of 5 or more requires the expenditure of another 30 sp of ingredients. Assuming you're skilled, you can brew a full barrel in a few weeks. This is approximately accurate to real-world ale brewing, in which, according to Wikipedia, ales can be ready to drink within three weeks.
The equipment necessary is described only in so far as it can be surmised from the process, but would require at least a barrel, a large iron pot in which to boil the fermented mash, and a method of straining the mash, probably pushing it through fine muslin cloth, which would likely cost at least as much as linen (4 gp per square yard). Ale brews at room temperature, so no special storage is needed in a temperate climate, but this of course varies by exact brew.
The article goes on to describe that there's a Profession (brewing) skill, and having 5 ranks or more in that grants a +2 synergy bonus in Craft (alchemy) to make brews with medicinal benefits. These take considerably longer to brew and require greater skill than the mundane ales brewed by commoners. At the high end of the scale, elven evermead costs 200 gp for a single glass and is fermented for at least a decade.
Arms and Equipment Guide also has some stats for specific brewed drinks (page 30) and rules for intoxication, but no rules for brewing. It includes an item called the dwarven brewmaker, costing 40 gp, a portable pressurized container that can brew a bad-tasting beer in a single week. It prices a wooden cask at 1 gp and weighing 20 lbs.