Brewery Name: von Trapp Brewing
Type of Brewery: Brewpub
Location: 1333 Luce Hill Rd, Stowe, VT. It’s a little off the beaten path (although if you’re in Stowe, chances are you’re already off the beaten path) up a winding mountain road, but the view from the top is more than worth it.
Facebook: von Trapp Brewing
Background: A little off the beaten path for me, von Trapp is a brewery in northern Vermont that specializes primarily in lagers. They have pretty solid distribution, and you can find bottles of their beer in stores throughout the region. I wasn’t sure if I would ever have the chance to make it up to the brewery itself, but when I found myself in Stowe, Vermont for my birthday, I couldn’t resist the temptation to stop by. And I have to say, I am incredibly happy that I did.
Growlers: Yes. Von Trapp bottles most of their beers for distribution, but there were also growlers clearly visible around the taproom.
The Beers: I’ve had many of von Trapp’s beers before, as they are pretty readily available in New Hampshire, so I took the opportunity to try the items on the tap list that I hadn’t seen before. German/Austrian beer isn’t usually my forte (although some local places like Liars Bench have turned me around on that lately), so I was interested to see what von Trapp’s take on some classic styles might be.
Vibe: Wow. That’s all I can really say about von Trapp. Wow. This place is absolutely incredible. I wish I had planned my trip a little more carefully, because I would have loved to linger a little longer and sample some food from the menu. But if we’re going off straight aesthetics, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a brewery as gorgeous as this one.
As you can see from the very first picture, the building itself is like something out of a postcard. It’s a massive facility located (basically) on top of a mountain, featuring a breathtaking view of the town of Stowe on one side and a clear look at the ski slopes in the distance on the other. There are tables and cornhole boards set up outside, along with a ton of green space for children and dogs to run around and have fun.
The restaurant and taproom itself is equally gorgeous. The floors are hardwood. The ceiling beams are wood. The bartop is solid wood. Every inch of the brewery feels like it was built by hand, and it really nails the rustic feel they were clearly going for. The brewing area itself is a bit more sterile, but it’s also kept separate from the public-facing side of the operation. That said, if you're curious, von Trapp has a viewing area set up overlooking the brewing floor. While they don’t work on weekends, you can find the brewers hard at work beneath you if you pop in during the week.
I didn’t sample any of the food, but the menu makes it clear that von Trapp is hitting that bierhall vibe hard. The menu is filled with cheese plates, sausages, schnitzel, spaetzle, and other traditional Austrian dishes--a perfect complement to the style of beer that von Trapp serves. The atmosphere, menu, and tap list are all in perfect harmony, which might not seem like a huge deal on its own, but it makes a big difference when you experience it.
There are so many nice things to say about the vibe here, but I just keep coming back to the fact that I couldn’t stop looking around. Every window in the place features a view more stunning than the last. Everywhere you look, the mountains of Vermont wow you with their grandeur. I can only imagine what this place looks like in the fall, when the leaves change. It must be one of the most beautiful places to drink on the planet earth.
Dogs: Since the bierhall is a restaurant as well, I don’t think so. That said, there is a ton of space for your dog to run around outside the brewery if you want to stretch your legs.
Price ($ to $$$$$): $$. I was actually surprised at how affordable von Trapp was. Flights and pints are both affordable, and even the items in their gift shop didn’t appear to be particularly overpriced.
Food: Yep. The von Trapp brewery features a full menu, although I regret that I didn’t have the chance to sample any of it.
Final Thoughts: I can’t say enough great things about von Trapp, and this is coming from someone who doesn’t have any particular affinity for German/Austrian beer. I would have happily spent the entire day hanging out at von Trapp, and I really hope I have a chance to get back to the brewery soon.
Brewery Name: Woods Beer Co.
Type of Brewery: Retail Brewery
Location: 5 Locations - Visit was to the Woods Island Club (Treasure Island)
Background: Woods is a fun brewery that I had previously only gotten to sample at beer festivals. They've got five locations around the city, and were on my short list for next visits when a friend asked if we were interested in spending a day out on their boat in the bay. Obviously the answer was yes, and the plan came to include stopping at Treasure Island for lunch and some beers at Woods Island Club. For those not familiar, Treasure Island is right in the middle of the San Francisco Bay, between the city and Oakland:
Their other locations all have their own vibe and setting but I’ll be talking specifically about the Island Club. My plan is to visit the other spots and I’ll be sure to supplement with some of the neat stuff they’ve got going on there too!
Growlers: Yes! Growlers are welcome, and I personally encourage the growler-for-the-boat exit strategy!
The Beers: Woods has a TON of cool beers. Travel forced me to miss it this year, but they do an annual release of beers themed after some well-known cookies that come out around the holidays (careful of copyright here, of course) including can/draft releases of beers like a chocolate peanut butter stout, coconut caramel dubbel, chocolate peppermint porter, and a couple of others. When I hit the island club, it was a warmer day and I went right for the bright beers. Here's what I snagged:
Vibe: Wonderfully chill. Because of its seclusion, this location is really unlike any other brewery in the area. That seclusion (despite being right between two major cities) provides a really relaxed environment and ample room for things like volleyball courts, a huge tasting room, tons of seating, bike storage, and all the other things that most urban area breweries can't justify the space for.
The staff was great and chatted with us about the different Woods locations, as well as a few of the more odd beers they had on tap. Lots of patrons seemed to have incorporated Woods into their biking/walking routine on the island, as a huge number of people showed up via bicycle or in running gear. Woods makes for a great oasis in that sense, with comfortable space to sit for a few minutes and enjoy outside air with a fresh craft brew.
Dogs: Dogs are most definitely welcome here. Wide open brewery and tons of outdoor space make it a perfect pooch spot.
Price ($ to $$$$$): $$. About normal for city beer, perhaps closer to the low side of the median. Certainly fair for being at such a unique setting.
Food: No food at this location, but you're welcome to bring whatever you'd like with you. Lots of people seemed to go with the picnic-style concept to take advantage of the outdoor areas.
Final Thoughts: Really loved the vibe this place has. It's built into an old manufacturing plant, and, now boasting a "beach," it's surely been quite a transformation for the venue. Not terribly convenient for the average city-goer, but that's part of the concept here and Woods has nailed the perfect combo. A perfect stop if you're out on the bay or exploring the island, and definitely a good reason to go visit Woods' other locations.
PS. I wrote the "beers" section of this review last, and I want to note how rare it is to not only find a gruit on the West Coast, but to have it be as notable as the Morpho. Woods killed it with that beer, and I'd be remiss if I didn't give one last shout out to them for going for (and nailing) an interesting style against the IPA grain.
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