Beer: Maple Rauch
Brewery: von Trapp Brewing (Stowe, VT)
6.1% ABV / 20 IBU
If this were a seasonal beer, when would you release it? Spring seems like the obvious choice as a tie-in to maple sugaring season—typically when the snow begins to thaw and temperatures are consistently above freezing. Before global warming, that used to be somewhere between mid-February and mid-March on the East Coast. But this isn’t just a straight-up maple themed brew; there’s smoked malts, too, and the rauchbier just feels like a fall/winter style. But this is also a fairly easy-drinker, right around the acceptable range for day-drinking, so perhaps von Trapp’s Maple Rauch is a beer for all the seasons.
This smoked maple lager is actually a collaboration between von Trapp Brewing and the Trapp Family Lodge Sugar House, a maple syrup production facility located on the same resort property. It’s a cool Old World/New World twist since the Trapp Family Lodge is strictly Alpine while maple sugaring is part of Appalachian culture. For fans of craft beer and maple syrup, the Trapp Family Lodge is one place to experience a few of your favorite things (this also comes in 16oz cans all across the East Coast for the rest of us).
The maple syrup is definitely discernible on the nose and the beer’s color resembles lighter amber Vermont maple syrup. There are hints in the flavor of the beer, too, but not with the cloying sweetness we’ve all come to expect from synthetic breakfasts of Hungry Jack pancakes drowned in Mrs. Butterworth. The smoked munich and carafe malts are the star of the show, though. Coupled with the bracing bitterness of the finish, this is probably the definitive American rauchbier, with a complex array of flavors that rivals Aecht Schlenkerla’s definitive smoked marzen.
For more info on von Trapp Brewing, please head here.