Thursday, August 30, 2007

Michael Jackson has died

Beer (and whisky) writer Michael Jackson has died. He had been suffering from Parkinson's Disease for several years.

Throughout much of his life, Jackson was a tireless promoter of good beer. It was through his written words --inimitable, erudite-- that he introduced the joys of good beer to many. Michael Jackson trail-blazed the idea of beer styles, promulgating the idea of beer as defined by geographical type. Prior to him, there had been very little formal recognition of such differences.

When he began his beer-writing career in the 1970s, good beer was disappearing. Jackson would hunt for good beer, as he put it, and thus became known as the Beer Hunter. From an entry in Wikipedia:

The modern theory of beer style is largely based on the work done by Michael Jackson in his 1977 book The World Guide To Beer in which Jackson categorized a variety of beers from around the world in local style groups suggested by local customs and names.

He wrote with a newspaperman's concise prose, enlivened with wit and a sense of beauty.
"Do you ever drink wine?" people ask me, as though beer were a poison rather than a playground. A day may pass when I do not drink wine, but never a week. Whatever is argued about other pleasures, it is not necessary to be monogamous in the choice of drink. Beer is by far the more extensively consumed, but less adequately honored. In a small way, I want to help put right that injustice."
--- Michael Jackson

Decades after he began his mission, we can enjoy a good beer as not only something miraculous, but as a part of the woof and warp of everyday life - albeit an exceptional part. Jackson's promotion of good beer throughout the world was incalculable in its positive impact. I don't believe it will soon be equaled.

D.C.'s Bob Tupper (l), the world's Michael Jackson (c),
Clipper City's Thomas Cizauskas (r) at RFD, 2006

We honor Michael Jackson whenever and wherever we enjoy a good beer. He was - and will continue to live on through his words as - our bard of beer. That is his special gift to us.

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