It was sad this morning to read the news of the passing of British journalist and beer champion Michael Jackson, a serious writer who led the way for many through the so-called "beer renaissance" movement of the 1980s and ’90s.
Jackson had apparently been suffering from Parkinson’s Disease for some time. He died of a heart attack at his home in London, England on Aug. 30 at the age of 65.
I first read his works when I got into homebrewing during my college years in Athens, Ga. His wonderfully comprehensive book, The World Guide To Beer, was first published in 1977 (when American beer drinkers and sellers used to refer to their favorite beverage simply as “suds”). The book promoted the classification system for international “classic beers styles” — from ales to lagers — and set the standard for beer enthusiasts and brewers alike. He went in depth about different brewing techniques, ingredients, flavor profiles, cultural differences, and food parings. His colorful series The Beer Hunter — a serious travel guide and historical document that sipped through Bohemia, Belgium, Bavaria, Holland, London, and northern California — appeared on the Discovery Channel in the early ’90s. I bought all six episodes on VHS tapes in ’93 — they inspired me to save up and travel on a beer-tasting trip through Prague, Munich, Brussels, and the Great British Beer Festival in London in 1994!)
Jackson published several updated versions of The World Guide To Beer along with other books on beer, whiskey, and spirits through the last 300 years. He was an elegant speaker and clinician as well. he will be missed. Raise a glass, stein, or mug of your favorite ale or lager and toast the one and only Beer Hunter this week.