Given the raw ingredients, can the fabricate spell create beer if the caster is proficient with and has brewers kit?
Yes, if you have alcohol, water, CO2 and some kind of grain, and proficiency in Brewer's supplies
By obtaining something alcoholic (fermented fruit perhaps), water, grain for taste only and Carbon Dioxide (hopefully in rich supply) then you can combine these ingredients into a convincing replica of alcohol.
Those raw ingredients form the vast majority of the end product of beer and could be arranged into that form via Fabricate. For more in depth imitation of flavour, you may need to have on hand sugars, yeast, or other beer brewing byproducts to mix in in small amounts.
Yes and no.
Fabricate is not replacing the brewing process, it's more of a magical mixer, putting materials in place. If you put beer in a centrifuge to separate out it's building blocks, you would use those. You can't fabricate alcohol out of water and hops, but you could provide grain alcohol as a material. Using fabricate to clear out impurities and add the raw alcohol to hops and yeast, you could create a rough beer.
I imagine your character would need a lot of practice with the fabricate to make a decent beer, but proficiency in brewing supplies could make something that passes for beer.
Yes, if the raw material is 'beer'
You can make older beer out of younger beer, since the latter is the raw material for the former and they are of the same substance. You cannot make younger beer out of older beer, though, since the elder is not the raw material for the younger, nor can you make beer from hops, barley, wheat, water, etc since the finished product is not of the same substance as the ingredients.
Not a genuine beer, because brewing real beer involves a creature (yeast) which is outside the scope of the spell
Part of the fabricate spell description reads:
Creatures or magic items can't be created or transmuted by this spell.
The yeast are tiny organisms that digest the malted barley and emit alcohol and CO2 as by-products, as they re-produce like mad. To magically cause (or accelerate) this function would be creating millions and millions of yeast organisms, which is precluded by the spell description.
For clarity: Even though the spell lets you make a bridge out of "trees", this treats the trees as merely a source of lumber, and no longer as living creatures for purposes of the construction. But in beer making, the yeast need to function very largely and significantly as creatures -- consuming, metabolizing, reproducing, etc. So the creation or modification of living organisms is part and parcel of making the beer, completely unlike building a bridge out of lumber. Non-pasteurized beer is generally "still alive" when you drink it, even.
Furthermore, the spell description also says (emphasis mine):
You convert raw materials into products of the same material.
You asked about what could happen if you would bring together the ingredients of the beer. But by the time beer is made, it is not longer "of the same material" as its "raw ingredients" were. Ethyl alcohol and CO2 are not among the "raw materials" for making beer -- they emerge as the result of the organic transformation that occurs during brewing.
Can you just make beer without using yeast?
Again, not real beer. Because if you could make malted barley wort into alcohol somehow without using yeast, you'd be missing that the yeast contributes some of the distinctive flavor of beer (it's not just for producing alcohol).
Are yeast possibly not even "creatures" in 5e, and does it matter for this question?It's not entirely clear. The RAW SRD says, in describing "plants" as a type of "creature":
Fungal creatures such as the gas spore and the myconid also fall into this category.
And yeast are indeed fungal.
But wait, the RAW also says (of the"plants" type):
Plants in this context are vegetable creatures, not ordinary flora.
Despite that statement, the Awaken spell is commonly understood to be able to target "ordinary flora" such as a common oak tree, even though it says the target has to be a "beast or plant". This seems to imply that when an initially ordinary plant is about to be the subject of the effects of a spell that transmutes it with magical effects, then it is treated as a creature.
Putting this all together, I suppose a DM could rule either way, as to whether yeast are "creatures" in this context, but even if they aren't, you need to facilitate a vast multiplication of the starting amount of yeast when you engage in beer making. If you want to assert that fabricate could let you do that, then where does it stop? Why could it not also let you build a ten-ton wooden bridge from just ten pounds of wood? So again it's hard to defend using fabricate to make real beer.
Unlikely, you can only using a single raw material source
You convert raw materials into products of the same material. For example, you can fabricate a wooden bridge from a clump of trees, a rope from a patch of hemp, and clothes from flax or wool.
In the examples given, you are always converting a single raw material into fabricated object using only that raw material.
If a DM is willing to stretch the spell to emulate complex manufacturing/creation, then that may be up to them - but the wording of the spell suggests the single raw material type limitation.