Tasting Notes with Jim Beauregard: The sound of beer bottles clinking

By JIM BEAUREGARD March 29. 2016 9:16PM
Helles Lager is one of four von Trapp brews marketed in a variety 12-pack. 

Sometimes curiosity gets the best of you. I was on my way through Market Basket last week and spotted a box I hadn’t seen before: von Trapp Brewery. Yes, those von Trapps.

Johannes von Trapp, still of Stowe, Vt., built a brewery on the property where the famed family lodge stands, recalling “the quality brewing of his ancestral homeland,” Austria.

Curiosity, in the form of a 12-bottle variety pack, came home with me. Here’s what I found:

• Von Trapp Helles Lager (4.9% alcohol by volume): “Hell” means bright in German, and the beer is indeed very light, a pale gold in color with a generous white head. The nose is light and hoppy. The palate carries the hops, with just the very slightest hint of malt. There are flavors of citrus, lemon and just a hint of herbal on this light, made-for-summer beer.

• Von Trapp Pilsner Lager (5.4% abv): A little heavier on the spectrum, billed as “Bohemian” in style, which again speaks to a certain lightness, the beer is again a pale gold under a white, but frothier head. The nose is of light intensity, again showing hops. On the palate, the hops combine with stronger herbal notes and some medium-strength bitterness, with medium acidity, light texture — lighter than most pilsners you will come across here — and the flavor profile brings the hops along with the same bitterness right through to the end.

•  Von Trapp Vienna Style Lager (5.2% abv): The head on this one is huge, frothy and lasting, over a bright golden beer. There are clearly more malt notes on the nose. The palate gives us flavors of bread, grain and some grassiness, with herbal notes in the background, and a medium-length finish. Medium-bodied, lighter in both color and flavor than many of the darker lagers we are accustomed to seeing in this country, the flavors carry through to the end.

• Von Trapp Dunkel Lager (5.7% abv): “Dunkel” means dark, and in this case we leave behind the golden tones of the previous three beers for a tawny-brown color under on off-white or light tan head. The malt is pronounced on the nose. This is the heaviest of the four, with medium-plus body and a creaminess of texture, dry with medium acidity and medium carbonation. The flavor profile is all malt, with molasses, caramel hints, toffee, and some roasted notes — the most flavorful of the four.

Lest you still have any doubts, the labels all remind you that the beer is made “By the family that inspired ‘The Sound of Music.’” All four varieties in the 12-pack boast of being made with Vermont spring water.

So, there you have it. Three of the four are lighter beers, ideal for summer drinking, and the fourth for those who like a bigger flavor.

Contact local beer and wine writer Jim Beauregard at tastingnotesnh@aol.com.


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