Founder, Managing Partner
Steve is the great grandson of German immigrants, and he developed an interest in the German language and bier from his father, who grew up in a small German-speaking farming community in the Midwest. He pursued his interests by studying German and International Marketing at Northwest Missouri State University. During his junior year, he studied in Hamburg, Germany, where he first experienced the flavor and freshness of locally brewed German bier.
During a 30+ year career in banking and commercial real estate investment, Steve became an avid homebrewer and beer writer, with articles published in numerous homebrewing and professional magazines such as Zymurgy, Brew-Your-Own, Brewing Techniques, Brewers Digest, and the New Brewer. He also authored a best-selling reference book, A Handbook of Basic Brewing Calculations, published by the Master Brewers Association. He co-wrote and was the senior editor for the Beer Steward’s Handbook, also published by the Master Brewers Association. Steve has lectured at various brewing conferences, served as a radio co-host on the Beer Show in Dallas, Texas, and has participated as a beer Judge at the Great American Beer Festival since 2005. In 1997, he attended classes at Doemens Brewing Academy in Munich and in 2003 earned the designation Diploma Brewer from the Institute of Brewing and Distilling in London.
Steve retired as the Regional Director of the Northwestern Mutual Life Real Estate Investment Office in Dallas in 2013 and returned to his hometown to open KC Bier Co. During his real estate career, he participated in financing such iconic local properties as the American Century Towers, The Country Club Plaza, Corporate Woods, DST Headquarters, and various apartment and industrial developments.
Jürgen is a native of Bavaria who moved to the US in 2001 to manage the financial operations of a German company with its US headquarters in Dallas, Texas where Jürgen and Steve Holle became friends. Jürgen moved to Kansas City prior to the opening of the brewery and was instrumental in laying out the design and décor of the Bierhalle and Biergarten, creating a menu of authentic German foods, and sourcing German butchers and other food vendors who could supply traditional meats, sausages, and other items. Patrons may even find a few items on the menu from recipes handed down by Jürgen’s Oma and Mutti.
Jürgen is a jack-of-all-trades. He assists with planning our cultural events like Oktoberfest, booking bands, updating the menu, hosting offsite beer events, calling on retailers, and helping with various day-to-day business operations. Jürgen enjoys greeting guests in the Bierhalle, especially engaging in conversation with other German speakers who visit frequently.
Head Brewer and Partner
Karlton Graham was an avid home brewer living in Kansas City who had previously lived in Europe and had visited some 300 breweries around the world when he decided to quit his desk job and turn his passion for beer into a career. He enrolled in the Master Brewer Program at the Siebel Institute of Technology in Chicago. The first half of the program included classroom studies in brewing theory in Chicago, followed by a 5-month study and practicum at Doemens Brewing Academy in Munich, Germany. Because founder Steve Holle had attended Doemens and wanted a German-trained brewer, he placed a job posting at the Doemens while Karlton was studying there. So, after completing his studies, Karlton returned to Kansas City and began setting up the brewery.
Since successfully starting up the brewery in late 2013, Karlton has capably managed a rapid expansion of the facilities. The initial cellar capacity of 480 barrels has grown to 2,235 barrels. Other additions include an 18-head rotary bottle filler, semi-automatic keg cleaner-filler, and advanced lab equipment.