Saturday, September 1, 2007

Michael Jackson's Last Grand Cru

Scanning through the recent listings on Foobooz, I was struck with the sad news that Michael Jackson passed away, immediate causes unknown, on Thursday, August 30. Though a renowned authority on whiskey, Mr. Jackson was and will always be know as one of the world’s leading authorities on beer. Many of his books should be included at the core of any serious beer geek’s library.

In his heyday, Michael was one of the most colorful and enjoyable champions of beer I’d ever encountered. His annual visit to Philadelphia for the Book and the Cook festival, during which he conducted thematic tastings in the rotunda at the University of Pennsylvania Museum, held a regular spot on my calendar for many years. Perhaps most memorable was his “duel” between Belgian beers and American knockoffs. His presentation that day really sparked the fires that have kept me interested in the beers of Belgium ever since.

I last had the pleasure of meeting Michael at the 8th Annual Michael Jackson Beer Dinner at Monk’s Café on March 19, 2006. There ostensibly to celebrate the recent release of the fifth edition of Michael Jackson’s Great Beers of Belgium, Michael held forth in his ubiquitous rambling style on the merits of Flemish Sour Ales, paired with various dishes from the Monk’s kitchen. Though he was clearly showing the signs of Parkinson’s Disease at the time, he wasn’t deterred from bantering about the relative merits of each beer nor from signing copies of his book for the fans and attendees that queued up to his podium.

Michael’s authoritative writings will continue to live. His natural talent for sharing the simple pleasures of good beer will be missed. Cheers!


Joe said...

I can't believe he's gone, but while everyone else remembers him for his beer, I loved his guide to single malts...

David McDuff said...

I have to admit that single malt scotch is one area of the wine and spirits world where I've barely begun to scratch the surface. I'll have to pick up Mr. Jackson's book. Again, his work will live on. Thanks for the tip.

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