Thursday, 22 July 2010

Michael Jackson

I’ve been asked to write a piece for the Brewery History Society for a special Michael Jackson edition of their journal. The journal will look at many different aspects of Michael’s beer writing including Beer Styles, the Taste of Beer, Belgian Beer and Craft Beer in the USA. My piece is on Beer Writing in the New Media so I wanted to open it out to people who read and write online to get their thoughts – it seems more pertinent to do this than to just speak to the old media pack. So, a few questions for you, for which I’d be very grateful for responses (which I will use them in the article – feel free to go off-piste and give general thoughts, the questions are there more as a guide):

Do you own any Michael Jackson books? Which? Do you read them regularly, do you use them for reference?

Have you seen any of the Beer Hunter shows online?

If you write a blog then is Michael’s work influential in any way?

Do you read any of his articles held online at Beer Hunter?

Does his influence extend into beer community websites like Rate Beer and Beer Advocate (I’ll be asking this on Rate Beer to see what people over there say)?

I think many take for granted the influence Michael had. In researching this I’ve found that I’d taken it for granted – the language I use to discuss beers is directly a result of the work he did, when I discuss styles it’s only because Michael told the world about them, when I drink a lambic now I can thank Michael for effectively ‘saving’ a style which might have died, when I drink a US craft beer I know that he was a major champion when the world still thought that Bud was the king of US beers.

Any thoughts or comments would be very helpful – I want to know what people currently communicating (reading, speaking, writing or even tweeting) about beer online think about Michael Jackson.


  1. I'm eternally grateful to Michael Jackson for his seminal 1979 funk-pop album Off The Wall.

  2. He He. Charmone Muthafucka. Micheal & Bubbles are on 4 Music most evenings, charmone.

  3. Articles on beer hunter were my first introduction to styles,history and culture of beer when I first got interested in beer 3 or 4 years ago, long before I read any book or blog on the subject.

  4. A post dedicated to our lord. Nice one. I would have to answer yes to all of those questions. I started reading Protz first but Mr Jackson was awsome. I even have one of his books on Whisky.

  5. MJ's work is definitely a milestone of the beer culture in the world (both old and new) and its expansion. I think the first beer book I ever read was written by MJ and now I have almost his complete production, among other authors. Because of the variety of information found in the books and their "completeness", those tomes serve as precious gems of beer culture for the neophytes as well as interesting storyteller memories for the beer enthusiast.. and all-round reference for those times you want another opinion on that particular beer.

    I'm just a newbie in the whole beer-lovers universe, but reading just a couple of his books was enough for me to discover how vast and deep the authentic and passionate beer environment could be. Absolutely a very important step in every beer lover formation imho :)

    I made quite and effort to get my hands on all those old episodes of his show. Despite it was made something like 20 years ago, it completed the books and offered a very entertaining view on the beer world, maybe winking to those less prone to opening a book to learn something ;)

    ..and yes, MJ's approach to beer was important for my beer knowledge, therefore it influenced the way I see beers and the way I write about them in my blog.
    ..and no, I don't really read lot of the Beer Hunter's pages.

  6. I have

    its really handy for reference, i think it's older than me, i picked it up from barter books in alnwick and i wouldnt mind the newer version that's on amazon

    and got a copy of the beer hunter dvd somewhere,

    i think in some shape or form he has inspired and influenced many people around the world whether they be drinkers, bloggers, brewers or foodies.

  7. Well if you look at my post here: you will see I was ppart of a group discussing Michael Jackson back in 2001, so the answer is that he still influences in that he was from his pioneering vantage point, looking ahead in a way that is still relevant and needed now. He also to some extent pioneered weasel words for poor beer he was paid to write about without exactly saying so. If you see the word "spritzy" it is code for over gassed rubbish.

    In that way he paved a path too!

    I used to use his PocketGuide to Beer frequently (the original 1982 edition)and still do for reference from time to time.

    As for influencing writing style? No. Me? Yes.

  8. Still use his 'Great Beer Guide' series that he produced for Dorling Kindersley/Sainsbury's circa 2000. Spent many hours when I was younger poring over the pages of that one.

  9. I'm reeeeally new to the craft beer/beer blogging world (although I've been drinking beer for many years), but the first name I went looking for when I went online for beer information back in the 90s was Michael Jackson. He was THE beer authority - even a Natty Light-swilling redneck teenager such as myself knew that. And he's, of course, one of the reasons I'm no longer a Natty Light-drinking redneck. Or, at least, I don't drink NL anymore.

  10. I haven't watched any of 'The Beer Hunter' online, but I did watch it on the telly. Does that count?

  11. I think you would be hard pushed to find anybody who is passionate about who hasn't read something by Michael Jackson. There is no better resource on the multitude of styles than his publications.

  12. I am proud to have in my possession Michael's original, and ground-breaking "World Guide to Beer", published in 1977. It was responsible for sparking my interest in different beer styles, apart from English cask-conditioned ale. Just flicking through it, as a prelude to writing this piece, shows much of it to be still relevant today.

    I also have a 1979 edition of Michael's "The English Pub". I bought both these books from new, and remember avidly watching the great man's "Beer Hunter Series" on Channel 4, during the late 1980's? I am fortunate in having the complete series on DVD, thanks to fellow beer blogger, Paul Garrard.

    Michael Jackson's "beer Companion" (1993) and the 1998 book he produced for Dorling Kindersley, and titled simply "Beer", complete my collection of Michael's work.

    It is no exageration to say that Michael Jackson, more than anyone else, inspired me to so out and seek different styles of beer, wherever possible in their native lands because, for me, that is an important part of the exerience of sampling and enjoying them.

    Good luck with the piece for the Brewery History Society, Mark. I must re-new my subscription.