The Trapp Family Lodge is being initially coy about its plans to build what amounts to an industrial-sized brewery on Trapps Hill. But we won't be.
Customarily, when businesses decide to make a huge investment, they do so with a bit of fanfare. Announcements and interviews often happen when plans get submitted to public officials for review.
This week, Trapps submitted its proposal for a brewery to be built on the flanks of its storied mountaintop resort, kicking off the regulatory process. But the family reserved comment while the reviews are under way.
Before we proceed, full disclosure: We've had a few of their lagers, and, well, we're not entirely sure we can be stone-cold sober on this one. But here goes: The von Trapps' decision to go big with their beer is good for Stowe and good for Vermont.
A bit of background is critical. The Trapp family, which as most people know has its roots in Austria, began making small batches of Austrian-style beer a few years ago. The Trapp Family Lodge makes some 2,000 barrels a year at the moment, mostly for sale at its own lodge and at northern Vermont bars and restaurants. The beer is delicious, craft-brewed by a wizard brewmaster, using the Trapps' own spring water.
Trapps lager has taken off. Not surprisingly, the family company wants to capitalize on a good thing.
That makes sense on myriad fronts. Not only is the beer good business, but the brewery would also be a compelling attraction at the resort and in Stowe. And the beer itself is nifty marketing. Imagine folks in D.C., Toronto and LA quaffing a tasty Trapps cold one, telling themselves, “So this is what Maria and the Baron's kids and grandkids did after ‘The Sound of Music'? Nice. I should go check it out.”
Trapps beer could eventually greatly exceed the scope of the resort business, which can't be far from the minds of the Trapps, who know well enough the tough rooms-and-meals enterprise they're in.
That explains why they're proposing a brewery. Now for the nitty-gritty: The 40,000-square-foot building would be big enough to make 1.55 million gallons of beer a year, and comes with a 125-space parking lot with additional room for two buses, a gift shop, a 290-seat restaurant (150 seats indoors) and truck loading docks. It would be located in what is now woodlands below the existing brewery, and reached by a driveway from near the intersection of Trapps Hill and Luce Hill roads.
Numerous design, storm-water, traffic and other issues need to be reviewed. And the facility will hook onto town water and sewer, which presents its own sets of questions. The regulatory issues are important, and we are keeping our powder dry for that discussion, which we hope will be efficiently and expeditiously handled.
But in the big picture, a Trapps brewery is an asset not only to Trapps, but also to Vermont. “The Sound of Music” family brewery will be a growing specialty-skill employer, and a visitor magnet not only for Trapps, but also for the region. It falls right in line with the growing regional commitment to and success of high-quality regional food, beer and booze, for which Vermont is increasingly recognized. (In addition to its spring water, the Trapps have indicated that they intend to grow some of their own hops and barley for their beers.)
Like so many Vermont success stories — Burton, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Ben and Jerry's, Cabot — the decision to build a good-sized brewery reflects the Trapp family's passion and optimism for its business, for Stowe and for Vermont. We'll drink to that.