When beer geeks flock to norther Vermont it is often with visions of Hill Farmstead and The Alchemist dancing in their heads. I here to tell you that von Trapp Family Brewery should absolutely be on that list.
The tap list is entirely comprised of German-style lagers (although I know they serve weissbier seasonally!) each made perfectly. After spending any amount of time in the birthplace of the hazy IPA a list of crisp, refreshing, less than 5.5% lagers is a welcome sight. They have the standard helles, pilsner, dunkle and such but they also have creative takes on classic styles. For example, the perfect incarnation of their slogan “A little of Austria, a lot of Vermont” in their Maple Rauchbier.
When I first sipped this beer at our table in their expansive outdoor beer garden I commented it that was the best new beer I’ve had in recent memory. After bringing some cans of it home, that statement still stands. The sweetness balances the smoke perfectly for a beer that still says, “I’m a rauchbier!” but with a tame enough flavor to drink a whole 16oz can.
Speaking of our table out in the biergarten, there is no problem social distancing at von Trapp. The family owns more than 2,500 acres in the mountains of Stowe. The bierhall is massive with cavernous high ceilings and huge brass chandeliers. Outside in the garden rolling hills are fitted with picnic tables and a view of a small pond with the mountains’ forests towering behind it. About as tranquil Vermont as things get!
If you’re wondering, “Wait, those von Trapps?” Yes, Johannes von Trapp is the son of Maria von Trapp of the Trapp Family Singers and atop each can of von Trapp beer is the phrase, “By the family that inspired ‘The Sound of Music’.” The brewery was established in 2010 to recreate the craft lagers of Johannes’ homeland of Austria. To make these beers as authentic as possible they are brewed on a Rolec brewhouse directly from Bavaria. I think he’s doing a pretty great job!
PS – if you plan to eat on your visit, stick to the Austian-style options like bratwurst or pretzels instead of more American-style options which they haven’t really nailed yet.