HOLGER Meier always wanted a brewery in a monastery. He had a beer book printed instead.
The Kloof resident has decades of sales experience in the alcohol industry, is a published author and a prolific podcaster, who interviews beverage trade professionals.
how it started
“I always wanted to have a brewery in a monastery because the best beers are brewed by monks. Then I had the idea to write a book about craft brewing, and I heard about a printer at Mariannhill Monastery, and I knew it was meant to be,” says Meier.
The author and podcaster describes the process. “I ordered beer and shipped it directly to the monastery. We stored it in a cellar and photographed the bottles for the book. So I ended up making my book in the monastery instead of having a brewery in a monastery,” Meier explains.
Did his culture play a role in his passion?
Meier says his German heritage has played a significant role in his career in the brewing industry.
“I had a lot of uncles and on Sundays they drank beer. In my family, when you were 13, you were allowed a beer. I still remember hating every sip, but we were all sitting there, me, my brother and my cousins. This is where my journey with beer began. And then I studied beer at university. It’s called a BCom, and it’s the easiest degree, so you have plenty of time to drink beer.
Meier’s years working in Germany cemented his love for the brewing industry.
“I went to East Germany to work in my uncle’s construction company – it was fascinating. I was looking forward to arriving in Germany to experience the beer culture. It’s so diverse: north, south, east, west; Everything is different.
Even within the same country, drinking traditions vary from place to place.
“In the north you have small 200ml glasses, but in the south the glasses are big, beautiful and fantastic, and the beers are strong, tasty and full of flavour. I made the pilgrimage to Oktoberfest in my uncle’s company van, and we camped in the van for the weekend on the top floor of a high-rise car park,” he says.
The next chapter begins
On his return to Africa, he started working for a beer brand owned by a prince in Bavaria.
“It was my first real job. I started selling beer, and we sold more beer in KZN than in the rest of the country combined. We understood our customers, knew where they were and what they liked,” he says.
Subsequently, he started a Zululand-focused alcohol distribution business. Then, when the craft beer industry was just getting started in the country, Meier formed a partnership with a local bottle shop owner, where he would order craft beer and promote it. This passion for the craft beer industry led Meier to write his book, The beer book.
The podcast becomes his second love
In 2017, Meier was a guest speaker at a major beverage fair held in Munich. There he met Prince Leopold, owner of the brand he had worked for in his home country of South Africa.
“I spent a few days there wandering the corridors, and I saw Prince Leopold’s stand. Prince Leopold still runs the family brewery which is 750 years old. I asked permission to talk to him,” Meier says.
The prince offered to give Meier archival material from the South African branch of the brewery he had worked for, and Meier struck a deal with the prince to interview him on an upcoming African safari in Botswana.
Meier says it was his most exciting interview. He had been a fan of podcasts for quite some time before taking his first steps into the medium. His second podcast topic was Simeone Musgrave of Musgrave Gin.
Getting into the podcasting business was a long-term goal for Meier.
“It’s such a niche, you gotta do this thing an inch wide and a mile deep. The secret is to do it for the right reasons. It’s more listening than talking, so it’s really find the right stories. Don’t do a podcast just to do a podcast. You have to be interested in the subject,” he says.
The beer book is available for purchase from the author.
To celebrate International Beer Day on Friday August 5, local author and podcaster Holger Meier is giving away copies of his book to four lucky winners. For a chance to win, simply complete the form below. Winners will be notified by phone and will need to pick up the book from The Highway Mail office (115 Escom Road, New Germany).
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