Friday, August 31, 2007

Michael Jackson, The Beer Hunter, dies

Michael Jackson, whose writing about beer literally changed what is in the glasses of beer drinkers around the world, has died. He was 65.

Jackson, universally known as The Beer Hunter, recently revealed that he suffered from Parkinson’s disease and was battling other health problems. He remained active, speaking at beer and whisky events around the world and most recently addressing British beer writers before the Great British Beer Festival. He wrote about the past year in his last column for All About Beer Magazine, now available online.

Jackson began working for a local Yorkshire newspaper in 1958, when he was 16, having even earlier submitted news stories and jazz reviews. Working as both a writer and editor during the next 20 years he contributed to dozens of publications and also made documentary films. In his frequent travels he became deeply interested not only in drinking a wider range of beers, but how they were made and their origins.

Shortly after the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) rekindled interest in traditional beers in Great Britain in the 1970s, Jackson began to write more about beer.

He recalled in a 1996 interview:

“I had nothing to do with the starting of CAMRA, but I joined early on. I’d already traveled quite a bit as a journalist, and I’d tasted interesting beers in other countries. Particularly, I was very aware of the Belgian traditions and to some extent the German tradition. I thought, it’s very good that CAMRA is fighting for British tradition, but what about the tradition of these other countries? I think the motivation was almost like the motivation of some of those musicologists like Alan Lomax who went down to the Mississippi Delta in the ’50s and recorded old blues men before they died. I wanted to kind of record Belgian beer before those breweries didn’t exist anymore. I certainly didn’t see it as a career possibility, but I think all, or many, journalists have in them a sort of element of being an advocate.”

He published his first book about beer, The English Pub, in 1976, but it was his second, the World Guide to Beer (1977) that dovetailed with a quite young beer and brewing revolution in the United States. The book became a bible for both brewers and drinkers reconnecting with traditional beer.

In the 30 years since his books about beer and spirits - he was as authorative writer about Scotch as he was beer, but this is a beer publication - sold millions of copies. His television documentary called The Beer Hunter remains a cult classic almost 20 years after it was compiled.

He considered himself a journalist first, but also took equal pride in the words he put to paper.
They are only part of what he left behind and that list is endless. The tributes have just begun. It is the only topic of import today in beer blogs, on beer discussion boards and in various e-mail lists.

Expect the flow of words to continue for months.

They won’t be enough.

From Beer Therapy blog by Stan Hieronymus of


Anonymous said...

I only have to thank you for everything you did!!!!
R.I.P master it's what Brazil wants for you!!!!!!

André Santiago

Anonymous said...

Michael will be missed greatly. We admired all of his work, especially his books on beer that we educated ourselves with, his television appearances, and his love for our favorite beverage -- BEER. Thank you Michael for all of your contributions to the world of Craft Beers, Microbrews, and Brewmania. Rest in peace, and hope you're enjoying the beer over there!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the words! And thank you to Mr. Jackson for all he did to help craft beer!

Anonymous said...

I will miss being able to read new words from you, but treasure the ones there have been.

There are so many great new beers here in the United States I wish I could read your comments about.

Fidothedog said...

RIP Mr Jackson(not that Mr Jackson)

Anonymous said...

Thanks to Michael Jackson and his Pocket Book of the World's Greatest Beers, I went on a self-guided 21-day beer tour throughout Europe in the Spring of 2004. It was one of the greatest experiences of my life that sparked a life-long love and appreciation for beer. Salud Camarada!
Jeff Padilla

zendawg said...

I only met the master once - at the opening of my area's largest beer and wine stores. He presided over a beer luncheon and expounded on brews great and small. It was a fairly intimate gathering and a few questions were entertained. I winced a bit as one participant (probably unwisely) asked for Mr. Jackson's opinion of THAT beer (vaguely rhymes with fudmiser). He responded with avuncular and genteel wit, that he had visited the brewery and commented on its vast complex of gleaming copper and stainless steel vats and soforth. He also remarked on their impressive bins of hops of this and that variety. He then drily remarked - "One can only hope that they would use some of it in their product".

Many thanks for widening the world of beer for all of us. Cheers!

Anonymous said...

To the best beer connoisseur.
May You dream your palettes fantasy

Anonymous said...

DO YOU REALIZE THAT WE'LL HAVE TO DRINK AND EVALUATE ALL OUR OWN BEERS AND WHISKY NOW??? Thank god we had Michael to show us how it's done best. Let's do our best to follow his example, practice what he preached, and pass it on.

May you rest in peace. Few of us will follow with the wit and gentleman's manner that you had. You will be missed and remembered fondly by all who knew you.

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad to have known You, You left a great sign in my memories....i feel a bit bitter because i've been unable to send You my latest cinematic jazz compilation...but i'm sure that in the place You are resting now the soundtrack is made by the best jazz composers...You have been GREAT!!!
Sincerely Voster, David or, if You prefer, Dante Fontana

Iain said...

I only discovered this last week when I was in Porterhouse brew-pub in Dublin. I was shocked.
If not for Mr Jackson, I wouldn't have a taste for Belgian beer, including my very favourite: Hoegaarden's Forbidden Fruit

Rest in peace

spiney said...

I was in the Brussels airport (2005) and picked up a sampler pack of Hoegaarden that included a bottle of Forbidden Fruit, my first and only at this point in my life. When I got back to the states after finishing it, it was so good, I searched the web hoping to find a source for it. I didn't find a source for Forbidden Fruit but I did find the name Michael Jackson who provided me with so much knowledge about beer.
I'm heading to a holiday party tonight, my first glass will be to Mr. Jackson.

Anonymous said...

Michael Jackson was an amazing man. We will miss him surely.

The Hangover Network

Anonymous said...

I have only recently discovered his beer hunter series, which was so informative and at times off-beat and funny. I couldnt believe it when I found out he had died in only his mid 60's! life is cruel.I think a national, no, global toast should be made in all good ale establishments on the date of his death in rememberance of him for years to come...

Anonymous said...

I used to watch the pogramme in te early 90's with my brother and have gallons of Becks after the show - RIP