Who was Meindl?

People who have read my book about Vienna Lager will probably remember the rather formative trip of Anton Dreher to England and Scotland. He went on that journey with Gabriel Sedlmayr as well as two other people, Georg Lederer from Nuremberg and a guy only mentioned by his surname, Meindl, and that he was a brewer’s son from Braunau. At the time of writing the book, I couldn’t find out who that Meindl guy was, and I didn’t really bother as he didn’t seem to have any further influence on Anton Dreher’s brewing experiments and ventures. But recently, my thoughts kept coming back to him, and I decided to find out more who Meindl was.

Searching for beer brewers named Meindl from Braunau first got me to a list of members of the “association for the support and promotion of industry and commerce in Inner and Upper Austria”, listing a “Meindl Georg”, a “civil beer brewer” from Braunau. So we now have a first name, Georg, that should help us quite a bit more.

(in case you’re confused, it’s an Austrian practice to sometimes list the surname before the first name; I myself didn’t realize this was strange until German colleagues of mine commented on it)

My first findings when searching for that name weren’t particularly cheerful, though: Georg Meindl, brewer from Braunau, was put under legal guardianship in July 1840 because of his “proven stupidity”. It’s not clear when this ended or what the exact root cause for this court decision was. At least in 1847 though, he was clearly active as a brewer and seemingly worked on technical improvements to his brewery, when he presented a “beer mashing apparatus” (likely a mash stirrer) constructed according to an “English method” at an industrial exhibition in Linz.

While still working as a beer brewer, Meindl’s personal interests seem to have turned more towards breeding animals, though: he was actively involved in organizing the agricultural fair in Braunau, providing space for the festivities both on his land and in his inn. He also participated in 1855 in the exhibition and prize competitions, showing his Cochin, Brazilian and English breeds of chicken, and placing fourth for a bull of his. At the agricultural exhibition in Linz in 1858, he also exhibited Essex pigs.

In an index of businesses of Upper Austria from 1865, we also see Georg Meindl listed as one of 11 active brewers in Braunau. Beyond that, there’s not much more to be found. When we continue to search further, it seems like we might going full circle: in August 1888, Hermann Meindl, a brewer’s son from Braunau, was put under legal guardianship due an “officially determined mental disorder”. The legal guardian put in place by the court was his brother, Georg Meindl, a railway station restaurateur. Both were likely sons of Georg Meindl, the brewer.

Today, Meindl brewery in Braunau doesn’t exist anymore. I have not been able to find out when exactly Georg Meindl’s brewery closed down. As a brewer and businessman, Georg Meindl certainly must have been successful enough, but unlike his travel companions to England in 1833, his work did not have the same impact on the beer industry.

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