Trapp to open on-trail brewpub

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Trapp to open on-trail brewpub

Post by LewLasher » Thu Oct 15, 2009 5:07 pm

When this opens, it will be the second skier-accessible brewpub in Stowe. The Shed brewpub is on the Stowe Recreation Path, which is ungroomed but usually skiable for most of the winter.

(The following is from the October 15, 2009 edition of the Stowe Reporter:)

Next Trapps innovation: lager
Brewery installed in former tea room
By Jesse Roman
Published: Thursday, October 15, 2009 12:14 PM EDT

The Bavarian region of Germany, in addition to being Austria’s neighbor, is considered by many the birthplace of some of the finest lager in the world.

Just as he did with his famed hotel, Johannes von Trapp — whose family came from Austria — hopes to bring some of that European flavor to Stowe.

Since last fall, the Trapp Family Lodge has been working toward converting the lower level of its former Austrian Tea Room into a brewery specializing in high-quality lager beer.

“I’ve thought about this for at least the past 10 years,” von Trapp said of the plan. “It’s now coming together — it seemed like the time to do it.”

After months of legal wrangling — apparently, opening a brewery in Vermont is chock-full of red tape — the two custom-made brewing tanks finally arrived last week. If all goes well, beer could be flowing by January.

The lead man on the project is brewmaster Allen Van Anda, a New Jersey native with years of experience as a brewer.

“I’ve been brewing beer since my senior year in high school, when I went to the local brewery in New Jersey and said, ‘I’ll work for free,’” Van Anda said. Locally, he has worked at the now-defunct Cross Brewery in Morrisville, and also at the Rock Art Brewery in Morrisville for four years. Three of the beers still in production there were his own recipes, he said.

However, the project at Trapps is unlike any Van Anda has undertaken before.

Starting a brewery from scratch that specializes in lager is an ambitious project. The biggest differences between lager and ale are the yeast strain and the aging process required, Van Anda said. A batch of lager takes at least six weeks from start to finish; some can take more than a year. Ale can be produced in just five days.

Because of those factors, churning out lager beer is more costly and much harder than ale. Because of that, ale dominates the local beer market.

“When I started talking to people about buying tanks, they looked at me strange and said, ‘You’re doing what?’” Van Anda said. “It is very time-consuming and a very difficult process to create a quality lager.”

But that’s exactly what the still-unnamed brewery at Trapp Family Lodge intends to do.

Four to start

“For us, the first goal is to make a product that does not exist in Vermont yet, which is a real lager beer,” said Jean-Luc Jenni, the lodge’s food and beverage director, who is also working closely on the project. “We’re trying to have a niche product that is unmatched in quality in Vermont or New England. We’re not taking any shortcuts. We’re going to keep it in the tank as long as possible, to get that natural carbonation through the fermentation process.”

“There are really no lagers like this produced in the area,” von Trapp said. “We feel like there is a market niche there and we’re going after it.”

The lodge hoped to start producing beer this week, but the rollout date has been delayed because of unexpected legal hurdles.

While the brewery worked through the red tape — a process that isn’t over yet — Van Anda “went on a real hard research” mission to Europe to sample beer and develop master recipes. The brewer envisions starting with two year-round lagers — one that’s light, crisp and has less alcohol than other brews, and another that’s a bit more like a pale ale — and two other seasonal beers.

“One will be a nice Salzburg-type beer,” von Trapp said. “It will be a terrific, flavorful beer that’s not too hoppy and not so strong that you can have one at lunch without getting a headache.”

As you might expect, retailers are excited about the prospect of a genuine European lager, especially one linked to the famed von Trapp family. A couple of local restaurants have already expressed interest in carrying the Vermont lager beer. There has also been interest from some bars and restaurants in New York City and Boston, and at least one major grocery chain, Van Anda said.

“The lodge will be a good ambassador for the beer, and the beer will be a good ambassador for the lodge,” Jenni said. “We’re hoping that someone sitting down to watch ‘The Sound of Music’ for the 100th time will say, ‘Hey, I’ll drink this, it comes from there!’”

Perfect spring

Despite the problems with getting permits, there has been at least one extremely smooth step for the new brewery: the water.

Beer is 98 percent water and arguably the most important ingredient. It’s no coincidence that some of the most famous breweries in the world are based in Dublin and Munich, where there are copious supplies of perfect water for brewing beer, Van Anda said.

So is the case at Trapps.

“There are a half-dozen springs on the property. We tested the three closest ones, and funny enough, the other two were good, but not as soft as the one right up the hill here,” Jenni said. “When we picked a spring, we were looking for perfect water, but also a spring big enough to bring in enough water to the brewery.”

“There is nothing between here and the mountain,” Van Anda said, pointing toward the wilderness leading to Mt. Mansfield. “We’re going to use top-of-the-mountain spring water right off the side of Mt. Mansfield.”

One day, the brewery also hopes to grow its own hops on the property. According to Jenni, Vermont used to be one of the nation’s top producers of hops — an honor that now belongs to Washington. However, growing the type of organic hops the brewery wants could take up to 10 years, from planting to a usable crop.

“That highlights the vision of this project: It is a long-term, all-encompassing project,” Jenni says. “And we get to have fun and brew some good beer on top of it.”

The times demand it

The brewery project fits well with what the Lodge has done in the past few years to modernize and diversify.

Two winters ago, it became one of the first cross-country ski centers to introduce snowmaking. It recently added a mountain-bike trail system toward the back of its property, introduced its own brand of coffee, and now is opening its own brewery.

“In the resort business, you have to keep things fresh and keep adding new things,” especially in a down economy, von Trapp said. “When times are tough and business is off, you need something new and different to galvanize the resort and get behind.”

Indeed, the brewery project and the others like it are doing just that.

“It’s part of the whole vision Sam (von Trapp) and Johannes have to get away from the ‘We are just the Sound of Music with a great view,’” says Jenni, the food and beverage director. “This is a nice little story, something that Johannes has waited 70 years for. It’s something the whole family is excited about; it’s a great idea and a great opportunity.”

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Post by Nordic~Xium » Sat Oct 17, 2009 6:59 pm

Sweeeet. All the more reason to take the 1 1/2 trip north.

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Missed it for 2009-2010, but looks on track for 2010-2011

Post by LewLasher » Wed Aug 04, 2010 1:38 pm

I regret to have to admit to posting misleading information. The microbrewery was not in operation in time for this past winter. I had given up hope and forgotten about it, until, just the other day, I saw a car in Stowe with a "Trapp Lager" bumper sticker. This prompted me to check back at the Trapp Web site, and, as it turned out, I slept through their grand opening.

They are saying now that they are offering their new lagers at the "DeliBakery" (near the touring center), as well as at a bunch of restaurants in Stowe and elsewhere in Vermont. One of these days, I'll have to go up to the DeliBakery and check it out.

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