In the midst of the pandemic, train wreck debates, election craziness, up and down emotions there are still so many reminders that there is more to life than what this year has brought. There are never too many FL sunsets that just absolutely catch your eye and your only response can be….
And morning reflections on a quiet path with only the Ibis’ and Spoonbills to keep me company.
This one is a Bavarian Hefeweizen but we are calling it a Bavarian Honeyweizen. Partly because an added ingredient of some honey and partly..well more on that later.
Now a little bit about the beer itself. Hefeweizens are extremely popular in southern Germany but are enjoyed all over the world. Amber in color, a little cloudy with an edge of tartness and a banana-clove character mainly because of the yeast. Rather than leaving the sediment in the bottle when pouring it’s recommended to pour almost the entire bottle in a glass, swirl the bottle to stir the yeast and continue pouring to complete your delightful summer drink! On first taste with the honey added it has a nicely balanced sweetness, rather than tartness or sour, to the palate. t’ll be fun to see what the final ABV is on this one!
It’s a short fermentation time of 2 weeks in the bucket and 2 weeks in the bottle. Which means it will be ready for the rest of the story….
The reason for the honey is because this special beer is being brewed in honor of our niece and her partner on the occasion of their engagement. And the name…
Cásate Conmigo Cerveza Caribeña which when translated means- Marry Me Caribbean Beer.
August 16- Bottling Day
So today is bottling day- we’re a day behind when we should’ve bottled since we’ve been out of town. Luckily we are only within a short drive back home to finish up this brew. Things were going great. On first transfer from fermenting bucket to bottling bucket the beer has a very nice light amber/yellow color.
First taste- kind of like eating a sweet tart! A little sour on the palate on first taste, but then turns sweet as the honey permeates your taste buds. ABV came out at a 6.43. A little higher than we thought it might be, but we’re attributing that to the honey and the little bit of extra sugar for fermentation. Let me back up here to the day of brewing. The fermentation bucket was out in our shed right behind our Florida room. As I sat there watching TV that night I thought something was hitting against the house. Lo and Behold it was the gurgling of the beer as it bubbled. If someone were walking by they would think our shed had a serious gastro problem. This went on for a good several days. So considering this and the higher ABV it will really be interesting to see what the final product tastes like after 2 weeks bottle fermentation!
Back to bottling. Things were going well. We started filling bottles and got about 14 bottles filled when… wham- the bottle capper broke. Literally broke. As in not usable. Thank goodness we are collectors of growler bottles from various breweries.
So into the sanitizer the growlers went. Unfortunately our bottler is a quick and speedy bottler, which on most days is just awesome, so most of the bottles were almost already filled. We continued to fill the rest of the bottles and transferred the beer into the sanitized growler bottles. Biggest issue was that we had to get the little bit of undissolved sugar cube out of the bottle. We did, though, get the hang of it and soon all the beer was transferred to the growler bottles.
We’ll find out in 2 weeks whether this is really a “honey” of a beer (said with a smile) or a “honey of a beer” (said with a frown). In the meantime…
Tasting day today! We wanted to make sure after the little snafu’s that we had during bottling that the beer was worthy of gifting! So we decided to be the guinea pigs- tough job, but somebody has to do it!
Our Master Brewer said he just wanted to hear that Phhttt… when first opening the bottle. Well I’ll tell you what. It was like opening a bottle of champaign!
Along with a beautiful amber color and a great fizz it looked like a great pour. First taste… you’d swear it was barreled fermented. We could actually taste the honey in the background. So, all in all it turned out to be maybe one of our best!
We thought about it for a while once we knew it was opening back up. We researched it by reading reviews, blogs, FB posts, etc. about what it was like in the various parks. Two weeks ago we made our reservations for 8/4 knowing that at anytime should we feel uncomfortable about going we could back out.
So this morning we headed out wondering exactly what we would encounter. We had in the back of our mind that at any time we felt it was too busy, too risky and too uncomfortable we would just turn around and head home. Even if it meant that when we walked in the gate and we felt anything not right we were outta there!
We were greeted at the parking gate by the attendant with both a mask and face shield. Cars were even being parked social distant from each other! It was nice to get out of the car and not have someone barreling in next to you. No trams were running. In and out of the park traffic was in 2 different directions. Cast members were standing outside of the park checking masks. We even encountered one gentleman wearing a mask with a filter on it that he could not enter the park with that type of mask on. We had our temps taken before security and at security they do not even touch your bag. They ask you to remove umbrellas and water bottles. As we entered through the Passholder gate there were no fingerprints scans and I was even reminded that my mask had slipped below my nose a bit.
Once inside the park we were amazed at how deserted it was!
We then headed Mouse Gear. As we passed Spaceship Earth there was only a 5 min. wait time, with markers on the ground spacing the folks waiting in line.
As we entered Mouse Gear there obviously is a limit on the number of shoppers allowed as there was a cast member counting folks as they came in. There are reminders everywhere to “keep the magic alive” by social distancing, wearing your mask and limiting handling the merchandise.
There were times we needed to make sure we were keeping our distance, but it really was not any different than being in a grocery store. In fact, I think at any one given time there may be more people in Walmart in one aisle that there were in Mouse Gear.
So we continued our trek around the park anxious to see what was open and what was not. There were the normal booths for the Food and Wine festival, but just not the hype and excitement of being there in the midst of one of the biggest festivals. The main shops were open, but many shops in the different lands around the World Showcase were not. The Fish and Chip shop in England was closed as was the pub section of Crown and Rose- which is sad because it is our favorite spot for a cold Guinness. But, it is also VERY hard to social distance in there. France was practically empty. The shops were closed, the main restaurant closed but the ice-cream shop and bakery were open. It was pretty sporadic like this throughout the park.
Our choice for lunch was the Smokehouse over in the U.S. section. No walk up ordering, but only order on your mobile. One way in and one way out. Social distancing required while waiting for your food and our cast member there was gracious enough to let us wait inside in the a.c.! It was remarkably very well planned but also remarkably very empty.
As we continued our walk we saw no line at all at the Margarita stand in Mexico. That is a first! It was time for a Margarita and cerveza. Does anyone know how hard it is to walk with a beer or margarita in your hand and not try to drink from it while wearing a mask. We decided we needed to stop to finish our drinks and as we stood as a socially distanced table we noticed a lady walking by eating her Dole whip sans mask. One of the cast members from the nearby Festival Market Place booth very nicely came over and asked her to go over to one of the table to finish her treat. No walking and eating and drinking without your mask on.
It was an interesting day. No shows, no entertainment, not all food and drink places open and no crowds.
I will say we were surprised. Pleasantly surprised at the care that has been taken to assure everyone’s well being. Surprised at how we actually missed the hustle and bustle of the crowds and the energy that it brings when you are there. It’s still a happy place, but now a very subdued happy place.
We are so glad we ventured there. We felt safe at all times. Would we go again. Maybe not it the near future. Oh- and if anyone is wondering. It was hot, hot, hot walking around with a mask on!!!!