Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Pain of Turkuaz and the Brian of Brewing

In my last post I mentioned a friend coming into town.
Young Mr. Evans showed up Friday, pleasantly proceeded to destroy my liver and my colon with trips to Lux (one of the best bar's in Rochester, by far) and Mark's (a delicious garbage plate that I never ever ever want to eat again... ever).
I did, for a few seconds, consider not ordering the plate, watching my general intake, and trying to work out Saturday afternoon.

Instead, I had one of the best nights I've ever had in Rochester.

Water Street Music Hall  has rarely led me down the wrong path. Besides the expensive drinks and lack of parking I have seen some great shows there. (Ben Kweller opened up for Dashboard Confessional when the former was only 16 and the latter still cried on a stool alone with his guitar).

Three bands were on the docket.

Sugar, It's Eli -
A debunked NYC garage rock band playing their second night of a very-mini reunion. Two members of the band are college friends (one whom I barely knew until after college), two more are NYC friends who I got drunk out of 40 oz. Styrofoam cups of Bud heavy with, and the other was an amazing drummer. The crowd hadn't fully formed, but for those who were there, they fuckin rocked. It was great to see friends and even better to watch the ridiculous faces they make while playing their guitars (Torre and Kyle... mostly Kyle).

The Vassar Brothers
I'm no stranger to Vassar Brothers shows and if you are currently reading this and don't know who they are, you should definitely try to listen to some of their originals online or just do yourself a favor and come to the next show. Seven great friends from here and Rochester put together a funkgrass collective of awesome and typically rock pretty well. This time they added a trumpet, and somehow rocked even weller. Who knew a trumpet went so well with a fiddle, mandolin, washboard, and Phil's eyes?

The big surprise of the night was another NYC band specializing in Funk and making Jesus cry tears of joy. I had heard so much, but remained skeptical. Huge thank you to Mr. Chad Shorebird for being an excellent older brother and bringing Craig's band to Rochester. All skepticism went out the window within the first five minutes of their over two hour (maybe, I think, I don't know I blacked out) set. Water Street turned into Sweat Street and there was not a dry armpit in the house. Collectively, the entire crowd danced more, faster, harder, and more joyfully than I've ever seen a crowd dance. Granted, I've never been to a Phish show, but I'd say this was way better. It didn't matter how much anyone drank, because the alcohol came right back out through the pores and by the second set everyone needed water just to keep going. If you have spotify, go listen to them now and don't ever stop. If you have money, give it to them, please. My knees and my neck still hurt, but in that good way, like you just climbed a mountain or worked out for a week straight. Now I don't need to do either.

The night may have ended with an hour and a half cab ride home and me almost getting in a fistfight with a punk kid at Big Deal Pizza (Don't go to Big Deal Pizza anymore, they're full of punk kids and lies), but it was still worth it.

He's the joyful one up front.
That's his brother creeping everyone out behind him.
Brewing with Brian or Am I Capable of Sincerity

For those of you who don't know my friend Brian (one of the Vassar Brothers), you are missing out. Not only is Brian one of the most genuinely caring, kind, thoughtful, and creative friends I've ever had, but he also loves zombies, organizes excellent tailgates, and is the first one to step up when someone needs a hand.

This guy got me one of the coolest presents ever, and as soon as I have a picture of it I will probably write something about it in my Nerdy Things I Write for Nerds (Like Me) page at the right of this blog. I'll save the story of the gift for that page, but suffice to say it involved zombies, deceit, the UK, and spending time alone in the basement with my wife... talking... just... talking.

Anywho... The first post I ever wrote on this blog was all about the things I wanted to do that I'm capable of doing, but simply don't do. Brian does all those things. Art, trips, languages, working out, brewing, reading, pottery (I don't want to do that one), and still finds time to come over to my place on a Monday night to make sure I don't completely screw up my first brewing experience.

Four hours later, with a kitchen smelling like syruppy chocolate and malt, I have five glorious gallons of Irish Stout fermenting in my basement.

Brewing is not hard, but it is definitely not easy. Brian has brewed enough that he doesn't use the convenient little kits anymore and had some valuable tips.

Tips for a first time brewer from a first time brewer from Brian:
  1. Read everything you can. There are simple directions and a term booklet that come with the kit and the brewing equipment. They are written for children and remarkably easy to understand.
  2. Make sure you have all the equipment you really need. Things I didn't have:
    1. A proper stirrin spoon (clean stainless steel or long strong plastic).
    2. At least a 5 gallon pot. I can't imagine how badly I would have screwed everything up if I tried to make this in my Sunday chili pot.
    3. Patience to make sure everything is sanitary. Apparently, when fermenting, things can go horribly wrong and bacteria can run rampant on your beer and eventually, I assume, your stomach and/or butt. We used a lot of paper towels and a lot more sanitation solution (Get a spray bottle)
  3. Don't rush it. These things take time. We started around 6:30 and didn't get done until after 10:30, so it was definitely a commitment. Fortunately it was a commitment Brian was willing to make, thus forcing me to put myself into the position. It's going to take time, but it is worth it. The time went by quickly, Brian ate a gas station burrito covered in hot sauce, we drank a couple beers, we watched a French short film on YouTube, Brian cried, I was uncomfortable, Jenna did school work, Brian played Red Dead Redemption for the first time and was better than me at it even though I beat the original game, I cried, Brian was uncomfortable... and scene.
  4. Do it again. Now that I feel more comfortable and I've accepted my exploitation of Brian's talents, we have plans to brew together again as soon as we can, probably next week so we can get a non stop collection of home-brews going until we're good enough that we buy a kegging machine and then Incorporate and Trademark our product and then start in local pubs before going national where Brian realizes he's the brains of the operation and tries to pull a Mark Zuckerberg to my Andrew Garfield's character (Eduardo I think) in the Social Network/real life.
  5. Apparently I'm all about run on sentences today.
That's it. Amazing weekend. I didn't care about what I ate or drank because sometimes fun with friends is more important. I've started to knock things off my list and as soon as I complete my third batch of beer, I'll consider that a success. Three posts and a Nerdy page about superhero movies later (It's right there to the right, but click on the link if you're into it), I also feel like I'm invested into this blogging thing.

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