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.

Michael Jackson, 28 March 1995.


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. He was a trail-blazer of the concept of beer styles, whether by history, geography, process, or flavor. Prior to his promulgation, there had been very little formal recognition of such differences.

When he began his beer-writing career in the 1970s, good beer was much less than it is now.. Jackson would hunt for it, as he put it, and thus became known as the Beer Hunter. Through his writings, books, and speeches, Jackson helped encourage a nascent good-beer renaissance. 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. Jackson will live on through his words as a bard of beer. That was and continues to be his special gift to us.

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