As I sit here sipping an Uerige Doppelsticke Altbier from Germany, I can’t help but think that a good part of the reason I can buy rare and wonderful beers like this in the United States is because Michael Jackson wrote about them. That’s apropos, of course, since today is the Beer Hunter’s birthday. Michael would have been 68 today, and every year I like to commemorate the day by tipping a beer in his honor.
Hopefully, you’re familiar with Michael (not the singer but an English beer writer without equal) , but if you’re not, it’s not too late to learn from him. Jackson wrote books on beer, appeared in a documentary series for Discovery called “The Beer Hunter” (which really should be on DVD by now), and even a few CD-Rom programs for the PC. What made MJ really stand out wasn’t just that he started writing about beer when nobody else was doing it, but that he did it so well. Jackson’s prose simply flowed in a way no other beer writer has even replicated. He wrote with humor and style, to be sure, but he also wrote about beer by styles and paired it with food in a way nobody else did. He brought about awareness for beer as a class beverage, and fanned the flames of many a beer enthusiast. In many ways, he is responsible for the beer revolution that continues today. And as I pop a bottle of 2008 Stone Double Bastard I’ve been aging, I know that’s so very true.
So here’s to you, Michael. Happy Birthday, wherever you are. They say that in heaven there is no beer, but something tells me you’re up there now sipping a brew and smiling down on us all.