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RIP Michael Jackson-The Beer Hunter


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Beer Connoisseur Michael Jackson, 65

By Adam Bernstein

Washington Post Staff Writer

Saturday, September 1, 2007; Page B04

Michael Jackson, 65, who was widely regarded as the English language's leading writer and authority on beer and who earned the nickname "the beer hunter" after his TV documentary of the same name, died Aug. 30 at his home in London after a heart attack. He had Parkinson's disease.

Mr. Jackson, a British journalist, was also dubbed the "Bard of Beer" as he hopped around the world to write, lecture and (to much envy) sample dozens of distinctive brews every day. His books, which many brewers used as reference guides, sold millions of copies and were translated into more than a dozen languages.

Starting in the mid-1970s, Mr. Jackson was credited with reviving worldwide interest in a range of beer styles and traditions, some long-forgotten. He also helped popularize the Campaign for Real Ale and the U.S. microbrew movements, which championed better-quality beer.

He said he wanted his work "to elevate the understanding, the diversity and the nobility of beer." His devotion to improving beer coverage was considered distinctive, he said, in an era when "newspaper men talked beer, drank beer and wrote about wine."

His first major book was "The World Guide to Beer" (1977), and it was greeted with enthusiasm among beer connoisseurs. He followed with such best-selling volumes as "The New World Guide to Beer" in 1988 and "The Great Beers of Belgium" in 1992. He was also an expert on other spirits, and his book "Whiskey" won a James Beard Foundation award last year.

His six-part British television documentary, "The Beer Hunter," (1990) was broadly seen as the first time on screen that beer received the same intricate attention as wine.

After a cheeky introduction -- "My name really is Michael Jackson, but I don't sing and I don't drink Pepsi" -- he spoke to barley and malt growers as well as brewmeisters in Europe and North America. He worked to dispel the image of the slovenly beer guzzler by focusing on the enjoyment of exquisite beers over terrific meals.

Charlie Papazian, president of the Colorado-based Brewers Association, said Mr. Jackson "portrayed the human and cultural side of beer. Never before had beer been embraced in that manner. His all-encompassing approach was that beer was about the human experience -- the exchange of ideas, commerce and economy, improving quality of life."

n peppers and was a particular devotee of Belgian brews for their "idiosyncratic" array of winy, sour, spicy, chocolaty and other kinds of flavors.

Inevitably, he was approached at bars and festivals to name his favorite brew. He demurred, saying it depended on his mood and the location. He once wrote a column about the "perfect pint" without naming it. "If it find it, I will be unemployed," he said.

Mr. Jackson was born March 27, 1942, in the northern English province of Yorkshire and was raised in working-class Huddersfield.

His father, who was descended from Lithuanian Jews, was a truck driver. He described his mother as a competent baker who was compulsive about proper language, which influenced his wordsmith skills.

He said he quit school at 16 because "the parents were quite keen to have me contribute to the family income." He became a junior reporter and worked his way to London's Fleet Street. At one point, he edited the in-flight magazine of KLM airlines. He also was an investigative reporter for "World in Action," a current events TV program.

He said he developed a sizable thirst as a teenager, telling he Times of London: "I drank partly because I knew that great writers drank and I wanted to be a great writer, partly to see if [bartenders] would serve me."

By the mid-1970s, food and drink was the main subject of his reportage. His first book was about English pubs. He said the nascent Campaign for Real Ale and the success of Hugh Johnson's books about wine led him to follow up with "The World Guide to Beer," which cemented Mr. Jackson's reputation.

In a later book, "Michael Jackson's Beer Companion," he addressed wine and his beer legacy:

" 'Do you ever drink wine?' people ask me, as though beer were a prison 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."

His wife, Maggie Jackson, died about 1980 after 14 years of marriage.

Survivors include his companion of 26 years, Paddy Gunningham of London; a daughter of his companion's he helped raise, Sam Hopkins of Brighton, England; a sister; and two grandchildren.



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As Ben Franklin said: In wine there is wisdom, in beer there is freedom, in

Water there is bacteria.

In a number of carefully controlled trials, scientists have demonstrated

That if we drink 1 liter of water each day, at the end of the year we would

Have absorbed more than 1 kilo of Escherichia coli, (E. Coli) - bacteria

Found in feces. In other words, we are consuming 1 kilo of poop.

However, we do NOT run that risk when drinking beer (or tequila, rum,

Whiskey or other liquor) because alcohol has to go through a purification

Process of boiling, filtering and/or fermenting.

Remember: Water = Poop, Beer = Health

Therefore, it's better to drink wine and talk stupid, than to drink water

And be full of shlt.

There is no need to thank me for this valuable information:

I'm doing it as a public service.

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Holy Shlt!!

The world has lost a great, great man.

A little story:

I was at the Aspen Food and Wine festival a few years back and had signed up for a lecture with Mr. Jackson on scotch at 10 in the morning. 10:30 rolls by, and Mr. Jackson finally arrives, dishevelled and hungover as hell from the night before. It was pretty funny. He then procedes to give the most impassioned, informative lecture and tasting on scotch I've ever heard. It wa sso much fun, and it's a shame I won't be able to hear him speak anymore.

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