Podcast Episode 357: Von Trapp Makes Conscious Process Choices For Lager Quality and Drinkability

The von Trapp family history is well known thanks to the prominence of a certain Disney film, but their dogged approach to brewing lager, just down the hill from the family lodge in Stowe, Vermont, has earned them fans throughout the region and beyond.

Jamie Bogner Apr 26, 2024 - 6 min read

Podcast Episode 357: Von Trapp Makes Conscious Process Choices For Lager Quality and Drinkability Primary Image

Photo: Emily Provost/von Trapp Brewing

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While popular movies tell finite stories, the real lives of the people they feature don’t stop when the final credits roll. So, it was up to the von Trapp family—whose story was told with huge dramatic license in The Sound of Music—to write their own next chapters. They did so by establishing a popular, Austrian-inspired family lodge in northern Vermont—then, about 15 years ago, they opened a brewery just down the hill.

They launched with the goal of producing finely crafted European-style lagers, befitting the family’s heritage. Craft lagers weren’t exactly lighting up the sales charts at the time, but it was a long-term bet from a family that thinks in generations rather than quarterly returns. Now, with a beautiful automated Rolec brewhouse and an attached beer hall, they’re producing award-winning lagers at scale—including the Oktoberfest that we named one of our Best 18 Beers in 2018—all while making very intentional decisions about process and ingredients.

In this episode, brewing operations director Tom Everett and quality manager Jack Van Pappegem talk through their approach to ingredients and process, including:

  • avoiding decoction of many pale lagers, despite having an automated and dedicated decoction vessel
  • finishing pale lagers dry, but not too dry
  • using small amounts of specialty malts to build character
  • managing the grain crush
  • keeping a tight focus on pH
  • strategies to promote healthy fermentations
  • selecting yeast for the ideal character
  • lagering in cylindroconical unitanks
  • brewing Oktoberfest lager as well as dark lagers

And more.

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Jamie Bogner is the Cofounder and Editorial Director of Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine®. Email him at [email protected].