A few years ago, after Operation Cheddar III: Cheddar Harder and in the midst of Operation Chowder, I had a sorta lager revelation. After overdosing on hops for a week, I sat down to a Pivovar Kout Koutská 12° Dvanáctka, the best pilsner I’ve ever had in my life. It turned out to be just what I needed at the time, and after years of giving lagers short shrift, I vowed to give them more of a chance. And I was pretty good about it for a while! I still don’t post about them often and truth be told, many don’t exactly stand out, but I do really enjoy the whole “palate reset” I often get when hitting up a clean, crisp lager or even something a little more wacky, like Hill Farmstead’s experimental oak-aged pilsner Poetica (from the most recent Operation Cheddar).
Many breweries try their hand at a lager now and again, but few seem to actually specialize in them. Vermont’s Von Trapp Brewery is one of the few that do. Yes, this is the same Von Trapp family that inspired The Sound of Music, and the brewery is meant to produce an American version of the lagers they loved so much from their Austrian homeland. Even Admiral Ackbar approves:
On the most recent Operation Cheddar, I finally nabbed a couple bottles of the stuff to see what all the fuss was about. I loved one of them and while perhaps less taken with the other, it’d still fill the palate cleanse role I enjoy from lagers. The hills are alive with the sound of lager:
Von Trapp Dunkel Lager – Pours a clear, dark amber color, mahogany, with a couple fingers of light tan head. Smells nice, biscuity, toasted malt, some earthy, spicy hops. Taste has that nice crystal malt backbone, some toasty notes, finishing crisp and clean with some noble hops kicking in. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, just a hint of richness (i.e. this ain’t no barrel aged monster, but it’s got a nice malt backbone that will stand up to pairing with relatively strong dishes), well carbonated, crisp and clean. Overall, this is a really nice beer, and pairs well with grilled foodstuffs. B+
Beer Nerd Details: 5.7% ABV bottled (12 ounce). Drank out of a pilsner glass on 8/24/18.
Von Trapp Golden Helles Lager – Pours a very pale, mostly clear, bright straw yellow color with a couple fingers of fizzy white head. Smells earthy and grassy, noble hops. Taste has a very light crackery sweetness with a minimal hop kick. Mouthfeel is light, crisp, and clean, well carbonated. Overall, this is a good lawnmower beer and a well executed lager, but it’s not doing a whole lot for me. I’m not sure it’s really supposed to do a lot, really, and that has its place for sure. B-
Beer Nerd Details: 4.9% ABV bottled (12 ounce). Drank out of a Willibecher glass on 8/26/18.
So there you have it. Certainly worthy of a look if you’re in VT and overdosing on hops (which, if you’re in VT, is likely). Trust me, a good lager like this will reset your palate and allow you to enjoy those heavy-handed DIPAs all the more. Stay tuned, I’ve got another pilsner review coming (and that one is a really good one too!)
2 thoughts on “Von Trapp Double Feature”
I made a Yahoo ID (mild frowny face) so I could comment here again.
Anyway. I love lagers! We get von Trapp down my way in CT, and I like them, but agree they’re not terribly distinctive. They never disappoint, but I usually don’t seek them out at the store.
For Helles, I go with Jack’s Abbey, which I believe you’ve mentioned in the past. Those guys do some fruit added styles that are not for me, but I find their takes on traditional lager styles pretty killer, especially their Helles (House) and Vienna (Saxony). Their Pilsner (Sunny Ridge) is decent, but a little on the flowery side for me, and their Dunkel is good, but I’m not a huge fan of Dunkels (aside from how they make me think of Dr. Doofenschmirtz).
I was up in VT for work back in the winter and discovered Switchback, which I liked, and I found this weekend that they have trickled down to CT, and they have a Pilsner. Got it this weekend, and liked it very much.
I believe we’ve chatted about Jack’s Abbey before, and I actually have a couple cans of their Oktoberfest right now (it’s very good!) They’re actually my preferred lager purveyor, along with Victory (Prima Pils and Braumeister Pils are great, and a host of other one offs, etc…), but their shipments to PA are inconsistent. I’ve been on the lookout for more oktoberfests lately. The new Sierra Nevada iteration is great.
I’ve also been working through some Suarez Family Brewing pilsners, which are definitely among the best I’ve had (Palatine pils is great). They’re in upstate NY (not far from the throughway), so probably not easily accessible for you, but if you ever find yourself driving through, well worth stopping in for some Pils cans (they also have great, Hill Farmstead-esque saisons). There will be a post covering them next week…
I rather enjoyed the Switchback Citra-Pils that I had a while back. Not sure if that’s still a thing, but it was quite nice.
Sorry about having to deal with Yahoo (yeesh), commenting is a pain on these old MT blogs and with 18 years of blogging stored up, transitioning to WP would be a huge headache (but maybe I’ll figure something out someday)… Cheers!