von Trapp Brewing feature

For our latest Drinking Buddies, we are featuring von Trapp Brewing. The brewery is part of the famous Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe, Vermont. They offer an array of year-round and seasonal beers at the brewery, giving plenty to choose from while enjoying the scenic views from the lodge. We sat down with Michael Witty, Director of Sales & Marketing, to discuss his involvement with the brewery and learn more about von Trapp.

Inside von Trapp Brewing

Drinking Buddies Interview

Tell us more about your background and how you got involved with von Trapp?

“I’ve had the pleasure of working in the beer business for 30 years and 9 years with von Trapp Brewing. My experiences include working at venues, retail, and with wholesalers. I was a University of Vermont Business of Craft Beer Instructor and now the Director of Sales and Marketing at von Trapp Brewing. When the Trapp Family opened our new brewery, I was very fortunate to join the team.”

The von Trapp family is a household name. Can you tell us more about the von Trapp story and how it led to the creation of the brewery?

“As many know, The Sound of Music is based on the von Trapp family. After their arrival in the U.S., touring the United States to perform as the Trapp Family Singers in the early 1940s, the Trapp family settled in Stowe, Vermont, on an idyllic farm with sweeping mountain views. In the summer of 1950, they began welcoming guests into their rustic, 27-bedroom family home/lodge. In 1980, after a devastating fire, the original lodge was replaced with the new 96-room Trapp Family Lodge. The lodge sits on 2,600 acres of land, complete with a farm, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, mountain biking and walking trails, gardens, a gym and spa, a chapel, and, of course, a world-class brewery.” 

“von Trapp Brewing was founded in 2010 by Johannes von Trapp, who dreamt of creating the American version of the lagers he enjoyed while traveling through the Austrian countryside. The first-ever batch was brewed on the lower level of the lodge’s Kaffeehaus bakery. The bakery featured a full restaurant, so this was a great place to start showcasing the beer. The brews gained popularity, and in 2015, von Trapp Brewing relocated a mile down the hill to a state-of-the-art 30,000-square-foot brewery featuring a Rolec Brew House and the capability to brew 36,000 barrels of beer annually. The brewery includes our Bierhall, where guests can enjoy our beers on draft, play a game of disc golf, eat some fabulous Austrian-inspired dishes and take an educational tour of the brewery.” 

The original Trapp Family Lodge

Was it always part of the plan to add the brewery to the original lodge?

“Starting a brewery was not part of the original plans, but, as mentioned, it was a dream of the youngest son, Johannes von Trapp. The brewery is now a wonderful addition to the lodge property, offering a space for beer lovers who visit Stowe. By canning and shipping our beer, we also get to share the taste of Vermont-made, Austrian-style lagers across the country.”

Can you tell us more about what guests can expect at the Bierhall?

“The Bierhall is a gorgeous building with a large, open eating area and bar, with windows all around, showing the view of Stowe Mountain Resort, a world-famous ski center. Guests who drink at the Bierhall taste the freshest beer possible because it’s piped directly into the taps from the brewery, located inside the same building.”

“For a unique experience, guests can rent out the Ibex room, a private space overlooking the Bierhall, or they can rent the Observation Deck, another private space that overlooks the brewery itself. In the warmer months, dining on the patio overlooking the property’s disc golf course is a fine option. It’s a great place to land during or after a mountain bike ride through the onsite trails. In the winter, the patio also serves as a ski-in, ski-out area, with large fire pits and ski racks ready to welcome outdoor adventurers in need of brews and a hot meal. We like to recommend that Bierhall visitors pair their reservations with a brewery tour reservation so they can learn about how we make the beers, offering them insight and a deeper knowledge of the brews when they sit down to order. Plus, the tour is just really cool.”

How has the brewery tied into the experience for guests staying at the lodge?

“The brewery is a great option for lodge visitors for lunch, dinner or a casual drink and some pretzels. The lodge sits amongst the various cross-country ski, hiking and biking trails, so it’s the perfect pit stop to fuel up during a day of exploration. The Bierhall is adorned with decor from the von Trapp’s ancestral home in Austria, providing a plethora of iconic pieces for history buffs to check out. While lodge guests and visitors alike are visiting the brewery and Bierhall, it is not uncommon for them to catch a von Trapp grabbing a beer or even giving a tour themselves.”  

“Bohemian Pilsner is our bestseller throughout our markets. Personally, I enjoy our Helles lager; it’s light, refreshing and hits the spot. Helles was also the beer the brewery was built on and Johannes von Trapp’s personal favorite.” 

Samples of von Trapp Brewing varieties.

How many states are von Trapp beers available in? Are there any plans to expand into new territories? 

“They are available in 17 states! Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, Tennessee, Michigan, Colorado and Oregon.  We are always looking for new markets to explore, with like-minded wholesale partners to help us distribute some great Vermont beer.” 

What is the Seasons of Adventure contest?

“Seasons of Adventure is an authentic Vermont vacation giveaway. Users get to pick their season and enter to win. Winners receive a two-night stay for two, regional dining, two days of excursions on the property and the adventure of a lifetime! From mountain biking to snowshoeing, cross-country skiing to disc golf, this is a great chance for adventure lovers to win a trip tailor-made for them. Those interested can learn more about the giveaway on our website, vontrappbrewing.com.” 

Can you tell us more about the contract brewing von Trapp does? What are some of your favorite collaborations/projects? 

“Over the years, we have had great contract customers and have enjoyed seeing them grow. We do 4 collaborations yearly under our Stowe Style Series, and they are all a blast. It’s an opportunity for our teams to have fun and create new styles and experiences.”

Can people purchase von Trapp beers online? Do you have plans for that in the future?

“We currently do not provide online beer sales and are not currently planning to offer that.”

How has Lilypad helped scale the business as you look to sell more?

“Lilypad has helped us track and achieve objectives, keep the team motivated through social interactions and help teammates design more impactful schedules. It is an outstanding tool for our sales team; we love working with it!” 

We thank Michael and von Trapp Brewing for being a Lilypad client. Be sure to check out von Trapp Brewing if you are ever in Vermont and consider making it a memorable experience with a night or two at the lodge.

Check out their website for more information.

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