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Friday, February 10, 2017

von Trapp Brewing - Stowe, VT

A Beer Flight and Map of the Trap Family Lodge Cross-Country Ski Trails 
Stowe sorta blew my ski socks off.  I feel like every time I go to Vermont, I am taken back by how awesome Vermont is.  Did I really just forget? Did I never fully experience it?  Do I have a new outlook on all things New England?  When I was there in October to bike Kingdom Trails and hike the state's highest peak (Mansfield), I was amazed by how gorgeous the state was.  I also felt a wave of nostalgia to be back in the mountains, a new love affair sprung from my time living in Salt Lake City.  

I have only heard good things about Stowe from friends but truth be told, I was not expecting to be so smitten with this little town so far away from the coast (you know me, coast is king).  This adorable ski town has it all with amazing restaurants, several breweries, the cutest general stores, recreation trails, oh and an awesome ski mountain.  I kept saying over and over "we HAVE to come back in the summer".  I loved that the town and the mountain share the iconic Stowe logo and everywhere you go, you are reminded of where you are from the towns many signs, banners and logos representing the mountain town.  My weekend in Stowe was just one awesome adventure after another, and just what I needed to start off the ski season.  From shopping to skiing to trips to local breweries, Stowe did not disappoint. 

Entrance Sign to von Trapp Brewing
The beer scene here in New England is something I had greatly missed living out west.  Since moving East, I have been to an impressive amount of local breweries from the shoreline to the mountains.  Vermont alone has over 20 breweries within its borders and we were able to visit two just while spending a short weekend in Stowe.  

Entrance to von Trapp Brewing
Whenever Liz and I chatted about her weekend to their house in Stowe, Von Trapp Brewing came up in conversation.  It was a newish brewery (2015 in this space) and she had great things to say about the space, the beer and the food.  I had heard of the Trapp Family Lodge, famous for its Austrian style lodge and cross-country skiing terrain, but had no idea they had a brewery.   Sitting on a bar stool reading about the history of the von Trapp family on the front cover, I was enamored.  The quick and dirty is that the Sound of Music family escaped Austria, landed in Vermont, declared "Hey, this kind of looks like home" and built a lodge.  And now because I know you are intrigued, I will let Wikipedia give you a quick little history lesson the the von Trapps.  

"The Trapp family, largely fictionalized in The Sound of Music — based loosely on The Story of the Trapp Family Singers by Maria von Trapp left Austria shortly before its annexation by Nazi Germany in 1938.  Baron Georg von Trapp and his wife Maria settled with their family in Vermont in 1942.  After the Baron's death in 1947, the family expanded and operated their home as a 27-room ski lodge. After a fire in 1980, A new Austrian-style lodge with 93 rooms was opened in 1983."

Entrance to the Trapp Family Lodge

The Trapp Family Lodge is now a European/Austrian Style Lodge known for its old school charm cross country skiing.  We headed to the lodge to check it out and here I am, standing at this iconic lodge full of history, set on miles and miles of cross-country skiing trails.  You can even head out for a moonlit ski out to this lodge in the woods- stop it New England I can't even take it.  

Icicle Door Handles to the Brewery 
In 2010 Von Trapp expanded out of lodging and recreation to well, brew beer in a retrofitted bakery. In 2015 they completed the von Trapp Bierhall down the hill from the lodge.  The lodge was partly modeled after the Augustiner-Brautheir Bierhall in Salzburg.  At von Trapp Brewing, they brew their German and Austrian style lagers, as well as serve food.  It was a quick walk in the Trapp family lodge, but a good hour spent sampling beers at the brewery down the road.  You know where my priorities lie....

von Trapp brewing stands by the phrase "A little of Austria, a lot of Vermont" and if you ask me, it is spot on.  Walking up to the building, you get the cozy Vermont ski cabin feel if those icicle handles don't make you snicker then I don't know what will.   It also helped that the snow was falling and we were practically the first ones in the brewery, claiming the best seats at the bar by the window.  First glance at the menu and I was impressed by their beer list, reasonable prices, and menu. While we didn't eat at the brewery, I have heard only good things about their sausages and other bites. 

Beer List On Tap 
Flight at the Brewery 

Johannes von Trapp, the president of Trapp Family Lodge and son of Maria and Georg (Baron) von Trapp, sent the Trapp Family brewer over to Bavaria to research recipes, some even dating back to the 1500s. We came for the beers, so let's get to business.  The beers are sold on-site, as well as at restaurants and bars throughout New England. The current year-round offerings are Helles (4.9% ABV), Vienna (5.2), Pilsner (5.4) and Dunkel (5.7). The seasonal beers are Weissbier (5.2), India Pale Lager (5.5), Oktoberfest (5.6) and Trösten (6.0). I was really impressed by their beers.  I love a crisp white beer and Weisbier instantly climbed to the top ten list. I know I said this when I posted about Allagash, but it was refreshing to see a brewery not obsessing over IPA's like many of New England's micro breweries are.  After chatting with the bartender for a little while, he told tales of European Brewers coming to the lodge to teach Von Trapp brewing certain techniques.  Whatever they did, it worked   Tasting flights are the way to go and between all of us, we were able to try each beer on tap.  The Weisbier was my favorite and there were many popular picks among the group.  There were also other offerings on tap such as Stowe Cider, another Stowe staple.  

Beer Flights at the Brewery 
Tap Handles at the Brewery 

As great as the beer was, the space is what really made this space a "must visit'.  The second you walk in its all light windows and beams.  The brand new bierhall was gorgeous with a large bar and plenty of table seating for guests.  You instantly got the "European theme" and watching the snow fall outside while sipping a delicious beer is just about the best way to enjoy any Sunday.  The bierhall seats about 175 people at long European family style tables and the bar.  A large wood-fired "Parrillas" an open Argentine grill takes up a corner of the restaurant and the menu reflects ingredients grown on the property, or as close to the source as possible. 

You can take the stairs up to the second floor where you can look down onto the tasting room, or to an observation deck overlooking the large brewing operation. 

Overlook at the Brewery from the Second Floor
The Bar as seen from the viewing area (second floor)
Our gracious hosts! 

Second floor observation deck to the brewery 
Lager Lane 
On my way out, I passed by "Lager Lane", watched the snow fall onto the snowy trees, and instantly remember how much I love spending time in the mountains.  I was so impressed by the town of Stowe.  It has just about everything you want in a quaint New England town, with a ski culture, amazing food and some of the best breweries around.  Outdoor lovers paradise with the amazing food and beer to boot.  Von Trapp Brewing makes some fantastic beers in a great space, making the town of Stowe, Vermont, that much more charming.  I will be back for the food, and more of that delicious Weissbier after a long day on the slopes.  Check back in next week for more posts about Stowe.

von Trapp Brewing 
Address: 1333 Luce Hill Rd 
Stowe, Vermont
Phone: (802) 253-5750
Hours: Daily from 11:30 am to 9:00 pm

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