Food Arts - Online
April 15, 2012

Stowe, Vermont—What's new? That's what we asked Johannes von Trapp, hotelier extraordinaire at the Trapp Family Lodge, and the answer is: lager, lager, and soon, even more lager.

About 10 years ago, he started thinking about brewing his own beer for guests of the resort. His dream was to create an American version of the renowned lager he has enjoyed through the years on his trips to the countryside near his ancestral Austrian home. In spring 2010, his dream came true when the first bottle was filled at the Trapp Lodge Brewery. About a month later, they were legally able to sell the beer at the resort. There was a law on the Vermont books that prevented brewers from selling their beer on their own “premises,” and after some politicking, the law was amended to allow the von Trapps to offer the beer to guests in the inn's dining venues.

Three lagers are regularly produced—Golden Helles, Vienna Amber, Dunkel Lager, and a rotating seasonal beer—in the current modest brewery located under the inn's DeliBakery, in a space that was formerly a tearoom. Here, young brewmaster Allen Van Anda creates the lagers, which fill distinctive one-quart, flip-cap bottles that are sold only at the inn—for around $15. The labels simply read: “Trapp Lager.”

Less than two years later, Trapp Lager is in such high demand that 70 to 80 restaurants and pubs throughout Vermont are begging for more. The lager is currently distributed to them in five and 13.2-gallon stainless-steel barrels. Current production is about 60,000 gallons a year.

Trapp Lagers are crafted using decoction mashing and are cold aged—about a six week process (ales take only a week or two to produce) and are brewed in accordance with Reinheit, the German beer purity law of 1516, using Vermont mountain spring water from the von Trapp estate. Barley is imported from Germany in addition to whole flower hops and lager yeast. After that, it's a locavore liquid—produced and currently sold only in Vermont.

Today, the brewery is practically bursting at the seams from the high demand. But that will soon change when, in 2012, it will be moved into new larger quarters, which will offer the room to increase yearly output to 50,000 barrels. The new space will also feature a restaurant and beer garden. After that, there are plans to take the brand to a national audience via even more increased production and distribution.

Johannes von Trapp, who was the last child born to Georg and Maria von Trapp—the only one born in the States (in Philadelphia in 1939), is hale and hearty and spends his days presiding over the workings of the Trapp Family Lodge . The 96 room/suite, four-season resort is the jewel set in 2,500 acres overlooking the Worcester Range of Vermont's Green Mountains. The operation employs 130 full-time and 100 part-time/seasonal workers.

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