Friday, June 26, 2009
The King of Hops
If you, like millions of others, were shocked and saddened by the passing of Michael Jackson on Thursday and perhaps raised a glass of brew (or whiskey) in his memory, then you were inadvertently marking the memory of someone I like to call 'the other Michael Jackson.' If the Michael Jackson from Gary, Indiana was referred to as the King of Pop, than the other Michael Jackson, of Wetherby, Yorkshire, could be called the King of Hops.
Michael Jackson (1942-2007) was a leading beer and whiskey writer and critic, whose groundbreaking book The World Guide to Beer (1977) helped usher in a new appreciation of beer around the world. He was especially fond of Belgian brews, and wrote extensively about them in his book The Great Beers of Belgium. He became known as the Beer Hunter after a documentary series -- of the same title -- followed him around the globe as he tasted beers from all over the world.
Jackson also wrote a host of beer and whiskey appreciation articles for British newspapers, such as the Guardian, which we have available digitally at the New York Public Library. In an article from 2003 called "Beer to Dine For," Jackson writes about pairing food with beer, an increasingly familiar sentiment coming out of wine and spirit writers here in the States, most recently voiced by Eric Asimov in his Times' piece last week.
There is so much more to say about Michael Jackson: his glassware, his rating systems, and his writings. I look forward to exploring his world in greater detail throughout the summer as I increase my knowledge of beer and perhaps toast to his memory in Belgian beer bars throughout the city.
And that's something to drink to.
Posted by at 6/26/2009