This content was originally published by The Hop Review, a digital magazine that joined the Hop Culture family in March 2020.
This piece was written by Jack Muldowney.
“DETOURS” is a travel series by The Hop Review. Being a weary traveler almost always calls for a reward in the form of a pint at the end of the day. Here, we document those beer breaks–as we travel the U.S. and beyond–with quips, photographs and Q&As.
VON TRAPP BREWERY & BIERHALL
1333 Luce Hill ROAd, Stowe, VERMONT 05672
Last winter we found ourselves in scenic Stowe, Vermont amid snow covered hills, and booked in for a stay at the famous Trapp Family Lodge–yes, that Trapp family. While we weren’t necessarily there to indulge in The Sound of Music lore, it became clear early on that references to Maria von Trapp and the famous family of Austrian singers were going to be tough to avoid. But, we were glad that were the case–it should come as no surprise that the family name is fully embraced around these parts.
Arriving to the von Trapp Brewery makes for a rather grand entrance, after an already beautiful drive up winding evergreen-lined roads. The facility sits back from the main entrance enough to make the drive up feel almost regal. And the backdrop? Stowe’s famous mountains, a skier’s paradise.
Upon arrival, Sam von Trapp–grandson of Maria, president of the lodge and owner of the namesake brewery that he began with his father, Johannes, in 2010–met us in the Bierhall over pints of Helles. We discussed his father’s dreams of opening the facility as a way to brew American versions of lagers native to their ancestral Austria, and Germany. He also described to us how he often skis to or from the brewery to his home when the weather allows it. And with that, von Trapp became the first brewery owner we’ve met who skis to work.
Taking his father Johannes’ plans for a lager brewery, Sam got to work hiring brewers for their then-bakery-turned-brewery facility. Von Trapp Brewing’s original Brewmaster was Alan Van Anda. But after leaving to begin Lost Nation Brewing, in 2012, JP Williams stepped in. Williams had left Magic Hat where he managed brewery production. Going from one of the region’s biggest breweries, Williams found himself at a new setup just a fraction of the size in von Trapp, where capacity was 15-barrels. A stark contrast, no doubt. But, a lot has changed since then, and von Trapp Brewing now hosts a massive, shiny new facility, that was last updated in 2016 to accommodate several new state-of-the-art vessels.
JP was kind enough to show us around the facility on bottling day, where fresh Pilsner was getting packaged. “Authenticity and quality are at the core of everything we do here,” said Williams. And it’s easy to see everywhere you look. No expense was spared in the creation of a top of the line setup.
And what was further evident was the respect and reputation for von Trapp, as we traveled around the state the rest of our trip. The brewery’s name constantly came up in conversation, not only in reference to go-to lagers, but also for what the brewery and family have done for the industry.
No gimmicks here, just quality, traditionally brewed beers.
What We Drank
Trösten [5.6%] – A rich, dark, smoked lager with an ample amount of roastiness. It was hearty and smooth on the finish, making for a welcoming ‘welcome beer.’
Helles [4.9%] – This lager is possibly the best in the brewery’s lineup. It’s soft and supremely easy drinking; a real brewers’ beer and a great nod to their German recipe inspiration.
Photography by Matt Tanaka for The Hop Review.
Authored by Jack Muldowney of The Hop Review, in coordination with The Vermont Department of Tourism. Check out the rest of DETOURS series as we travel the world looking for unique beers and where to drink them.