Saturday, September 1, 2007

National toast to Beer Hunter planned

Friends of Michael Jackson have begun to plan a national toast to Jackson later this month.

It would be a fundraiser for the National Parkinson Foundation.

Organizers first hoped to hold the toast at 9 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 12, but realized it would be hard to pull everything together by then. A toast is now tentatively set for Sept. 30.

If you know a brewpub, bar, tavern, ale house, tap house, multi-tap or similar establishment that might participate urge them to do so. Information will be posted at the Beer Hunter website when plans are finalized, participants will be able to register their site and download a poster, and drinkers will find a list of toast sites.

There are also plans for a Michael Jackson Tribute Dinner in Philadelphia in March 2008 at the Pennsylvania Museum of Archeology and Anthropology. Jackson hosted tutored tastings there for the past 18 years. That dinner would be part of Philly Beer Week.


Anonymous said...

In December 1998 Michael Jackson came to my regular drinking place, Redbones in Somerville, MA, to host a tasting of Belgian beers. Before the event got underway, I walked up to him and handed him a sheaf of photocopied pages.

"Michael, we're really thrilled to have you here at Redbones," I said. "These are a bunch of poems I've been writing about beer, whiskey, and barrooms. You might find the third one especially interesting--it's about you."

He took the papers from my shameless, self-promoting little hands, thanked me, and promised to take a look.

About halfway through the tasting, as we were getting ready to move on to Orval, Michael made an announcement. I obviously don't remember it verbatim, but I think the following "transcription" catches the flavor of his comments pretty adequately: "Before we taste Orval, which is one of my very favorite beers in the world, I'd like to read a poem written by a member of the audience, Barry Hoberman, who gave it to me just a short while ago. It's entitled "To Michael Jackson, the Maharajah of Malt." He then read the poem, sonorously and elegantly, paying careful attention to the meter and pausing for effect in all the right places. I hope no one will think it too self-indulgent if I print the poem here in its entirety:

In most malty matters, your judgment is true.
You’ve led me to Samichlaus, Young’s, Chimay Blue;
Altbiers and rauchbiers; dubbels and tripels;
Highland Park whisky and other fine tipples.
Your taste buds are practically always correct,
And yet, I must tell you (with all due respect):
Orval is tasty, a good Trappist ale,
But not—as you’d have it—the beer drinker’s Grail!

I hadn't seriously expected him to recite the damn thing right there and then, but it's a memory I'll always savor. Of course, Michael used the opportunity to offer a gentle, good-natured rebuttal to my opinion (in his estimation, patently false) of Orval:

"I am happy to have steered Barry to the various beers and beer styles he mentions in his fine poem. However, it's clear from the beers he praises that he has a distinct preference for darker, maltier, and perhaps sweeter beers. This would explain his inability to appreciate the greatness of the beer we are about to taste, Orval, and, as much as we can all enjoy his poetry, it is equally clear that we ought to take his opinion of this beautiful Trappist ale with a few grains of salt."

Touché. What a generous, gracious,
charming, clever guy. Confident in his judgments, but not to the point of being unpleasantly obstinate. Smart, witty and companionable, whether in person, on the small screen, or on the printed/electronic page. I say these things as someone who has derived tremendous enjoyment from Michael's books, columns, feature articles, and tasting notes over the last 15+ years. I admired his taste buds, but I admired his savvy as a writer even more.

For all of us who love good beer and whiskey, he was our teacher, mentor, rabbi, guru. And although I met him only that one time, it doesn't surprise me to learn--from the various tributes and personal reminiscences I've been reading on the Web--that he was universally regarded as a mensch. He was certainly a mensch in his brief interactions with pushy, impertinent me.

I hope that each of the Trappist breweries in the Low Countries will craft a superb ale in memory of Michael Jackson, the Maharajah of Malt. The guy knew his hops, too.

Barry Hoberman

Kurt Epps-The PubScout said...

In a classic line from the movie Gladiator, Maximus says, "Death smiles at us all..."

My money says Michael smiled back, raised a glass and said, "Cheers."

Anonymous said...

Is the toast at 9:00 EST (Eastern Standard Time) or at 9:00 EDT (Eastern Daylight Time)? The States are still on Daylight Time...