Cider's not distilled, just fermented. After you've done that, distilling is optional (or freeze-concentration - you leave it out in the cold and keep skimming the non-alcoholic ice off the top until what's left has concentrated into applejack, though I haven't actually tried that.) Basically you just take some good juice, add an appropriate yeast, stick a fermentation lock on top and wait a week. Yum!
I've only made one batch of beer, and it was from a kit that did basically all the work for you (it has a malt-hops syrup that you ferment.) Once I've used up a bit more of it, I'll try a small batch of with a somewhat more authentic method. (If I'd known there were kits for brewing a gallon at a time, I'd have started brewing years ago; homebrew used to be a 5-gallon-and-up activity, which is way more beer than I can consume before it's gone bad, and you need to do a few experimental batches before you've got anything you can dependably bring to a party, unless you're a college student with friends who'll drink anything they can get.)
Why do it? Same reason it's worth baking your own bread on occasion, you get to experiment, make something tasty, and have fun.