Visit To and From Brewmaster
John Erdman  

Visit to the Brewmaster

Having spoken with Al the Brewmaster via e-mail and messaging numerous times since joining the board and having been invited to journey to his secret breeding facility, I made plans to visit this weekend to pick up tips and check out his fish. Because I am trying to get the wife interested in discus, and also because we had a bunch of errands to run prior to the visit, she came along for the visit.

The visit was scheduled for 3:30PM EST, but because of the excellent directions Al provided we arrived at 3:15. As we pulled up, Al emerged from the house and welcomed us in. Since I had seen some pictures of him from either this website or his, I recognized him at once. We entered the house and offered the bag of soft pretzels we had just purchased as a gift. (What goes better with beer than soft pretzels?)

Immediately I saw Al's planted discus tank becoming to me from the living room. In order not to be rude, I restrained my discus-lust and didn't charge right over. Instead Al introduced me and the missus to his gracious wife, the Lady Brewmaster, and proceeded to offer us some of his famous brewing creations. As he left to gather up some of the beer, I did manage to stare at his planted tank for several minutes while the ladies talked in the kitchen. There were 8 discus in the 75 gallon tank, along with a Pleco and a couple of cherry barbs. I particularly enjoy seeing discus of varying sizes in the same tank, and this one offered that treat. Several large red turquoise and a cobalt blue hovered in the back, while some smaller Marlboro Reds (some of Cary's) and a few other more difficult to identify fish swam nearby. It was great. I have not seen discus in person (save for a few sadly emaciated LFS specimens) in many years. Certainly I had not seen any nearly as nice as the fish in that show tank!

In a moment Al was back, and offered his first selection, a rich, dark beer reminiscent of a classic English stout. Both myself and the wife enjoy beer greatly, and this was quite a treat. Al offered to either show us the fish first or have beer first, and it was only after much soul searching that the beer won out. This was a no-lose proposition, and the quality of the beer turned out to be even better that I anticipated. Over soft pretzel and nachos with Al's delicious home-made salsa (nicely spicy, but not too hot!) we polished off the first bottle, then moved on to a rich and aromatic chocolate stout and finally on to an amazingly flavorful fruity brown ale. We also had some great conversation, amazingly not about discus, even as much as the fish were on my mind, but instead we talked about a variety of topics from our respective weddings to Florida to work related topics. It is actually sort of scary how many things we have in common. After killing the third beer (I'm pretty sure (but would require future taste tests to make certain) that the first and third beers tied for being my favorite, with the chocolate stout an excellent fallback) we rose from the table and Al suggested we examine the discus! As the future brewmaster and discus keeper (his daughter, Becky) had just been awakened by her father's laughter, the womenfolk moved off to see to her needs, while I received the grand tour!

Ah, Nirvana! Immediately upon entering I saw large, beautiful discus! Red turquoise, wild greens of excellent shape and vibrant color, turquoise, gorgeous RSGs, blue diamond, pigeon blood and more! The heckles darkened as I a stranger, dared to approach. The young in the 75 gallon grow out tank didn't seem too upset to see me, but began a frantic "feed-us-now" dance when they spotted Al.

Proudly, Al showed me tank by tank of great fish. I even got to see the superior red turquoise that I commented on when I looked on his website. That is one great fish. He also showed me his food supply (no less than 15 distinct types of food for his babies!) and RO unit set up for future reference. (I also had the honor of being bitten by his chinchilla, but that was because I had no raisins...)

One revelation is that I decided to buy red turquoise and RSGs as my first fish, as (other than true wilds) they are the fish I liked the best. Of course just the wives came down with the now awake Becky and mine got a look at Al's blue diamond, further complicating my fish selection! (This is all just playing right into Cary's ands, isn't it? )

Sandra (my wife) asked Al if she could hold one of the four rat snakes he owns, and he allowed her to do so. I was just hoping that she didn't suddenly decide we should be raising snakes instead of fish, but I was safe, she really liked the discus!

Unfortunately, we were scheduled to make a stop in New Haven for dinner and then on to a High School performance of No No Nanette (Sandra's cousin's daughter had a lead role), the most hideous musical of all time. We extended an offer to the Brewmaster family to come to the world famous (famous for the pizza and the long lines!) Pepe's pizza, but, alas, young Becky has dual ear infections going and they took a rain check. (Plus I am sure that by that point they were tired of us! Or I should say me and all my discus questions!)

With one last look at the show tank, we were off, but with a rain-check for a pizza dinner with the Brewmaster family and many new thoughts on discus!


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