When I was asked recently —by a wine guy— if anybody could actually like beer, I replied that I assumed the question was merely rhetorical.
But if I had been Michael Jackson, I might have replied as he wrote:
"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 —no, not that other Michael Jackson, but the erudite man of books on beer— died almost a year ago now on 30 August 2007.
When Jackson began his prolific beer-writing career in the 1970s, good beer was somewhat scarce. Thus hunting for good beer, he became known as the Beer Hunter. As such, he trail-blazed the idea of beer styles, promulgating the recognition of beer type as defined by geographical region.
Jackson was suffering from Parkinson's at the time of his death (the symptoms of which, some poltroons had confused with public drunkenness). A National Toast was held in his honor a month later on 30 September 2007 with proceeds going to the National Parkinsons' Foundation.
Apropos of that, I've just received this email from my friends at the Thirsty Monk, a Belgian beer bar in in Asheville, North Carolina.
Tuesday, September 30, 6-9pm
Join us in raising our glasses to the memory of man who did more than anyone to further the cause of good beer, the Beer Hunter, Michael Jackson. Celebrating the second annual Michael Jackson Toast, the Thirsty Monk will feature local Western North Carolina microbreweries, Belgian beer specials and a cask from Highland Brewery brewed especially for this event! The official toast will be at 7 pm EST [more likely EDT]. A portion of the event’s proceeds will benefit The National Parkinson Foundation.
By the way, this is the only mention I have heard of any recognition for this year; I'm hoping that more will follow.
As for me, I will be with friends on AUGUST 30th, toasting (fellow Lithuanian) Mr. Jackson's honor with a wee dram of Scotch whisky (his other passion and topic), and reading aloud passages from his writings.