A cask strong bitter, brewed in Shropshire, England; pulled from a cask in Arlington, Virginia; enjoyed in contemplation on a Friday afternoon; and raised in honor of Michael Jackson —the Beer Hunter, the British beer and whisk(e)y writer— who, had he still been alive on 27 March 2015 to write about and drink good malts, might have been celebrating his 73rd birthday.
Born in Yorkshire, England, in 1942, Jackson, a journalist by trade, would become the author of several very influential books on beer and whiskey. In his seminal book, The World Guide to Beer, published in 1977, Jackson would, nearly single-handedly, coin the term (and concept) of beer styles, when there had been nothing such, before. That might come as a surprise to parvenu 'craft' beer drinkers today, accustomed as they are to the now 90 beer 'styles' recognized by the Great American Beer Festival (actually 180, if all sub-styles are included), a number which seems to grow every year.
In 1995, Jackson was planning to write a book on the burgeoning American microbrewery (now called 'craft' brewery') movement. Wags would call his whirlwind American visit, "Michael Jackson: The Iron Liver Tour." But he would never write that book; even then, twenty years ago, there far too many breweries opening far too quickly.
The World Guide to Beer is now out-of-print. But its follow-up, the New World Guide to Beer, is still in-print, as are several of Jackson's other books, and many of his newspaper and magazine articles can be read at the Beer Hunter website.
Beer deserves to be treated as a civilized drink; it may even have been the cause of civilization. [...] "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.
Jackson died, in 2007, of complications related to Parkinson's Disease. Consider contributing to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research, in Jackson's name. Or link your PC or Mac into Folding @Home, a distributed computing campaign run by Stanford University: a network of thousands of home computers working to find a cure.
Here's another view of that ale, from the same day, but with a different focus. Notice the unusual hand-pull mechanism built into the wall.
Arlington (Ballston), Virginia
27 March 2015.
- A 'bitter,' despite the name, is not not nearly as bitter as many American IPAs.
- A documentary on Michael Jackson, The Beer Hunter: The Movie, was released in 2013.
- Caveat lector: As a representative for Select Wines, Inc. —a wine and beer wholesaler in northern Virginia— I sell the beers of Hobsons. Any opinions here are mine alone.
- Pic(k) of the Week: one in a weekly series of personal photos, usually posted on Saturdays, and often, but not always, with a good fermentable as a subject.
- Commercial reproduction requires explicit permission, as per Creative Commons.
- For more from YFGF: