The Loss Heard Round the Bar

In June 2009 the music world lost Michael Jackson.  The King of Pop would never moonwalk again, and despite all of the controversy and nose jobs, Jacko would never sing again unless it was via hologram or awful Vegas impersonator.  How does this relate to beer you may be asking?

Well, in August 2007 the beer world lost Michael Jackson.  The man was known for generating interest in beer and breweries in the United States.  He is also widely credited for popularizing the concept of beer styles.  Unfortunately, he will never sip a beer again.

Despite sharing the same name, these two men are not related.  Setting the Man in the mirror aside, I am here to talk about the British journalist and author of more than a dozen books about beer.  Join me if you will as I toast the life of Michael Jackson.

Way back in 1977 at the tender age of 35 Michael Jackson entered the beer scene with the book The World Guide to Beer.  To most this book is currently still highly regarded as the most essential tome on the subject.  The World Guide to Beer isn’t just a travel guide; it’s an encyclopedia of beer culture.

The reason this book stands the test of time in this digital age is because for essentially the first time someone took the time to categorize beer.  Beer, as we now know is a vast liquid.  Take one look at most bars and you can easily see 6 to 10 varieties of beer.  What Michael Jackson did was classify these beer types by their varieties.  He based these varieties upon the suggested names and local customs associated with these brews.

Jackson is known for his travels and if you can scrounge up The Beer Hunter on VHS or on a Windows 95 CDROM you’ll see just that on his short lived series.  He is also known for describing beer in its cultural context as he believed beer was a strong component of culture.  I think it takes one look at a football game, or a baseball park to see that this statement is true.

Beer is all around us.  Beer brings us together.  Whether it’s at the bar, or at your house sharing a beer is sharing in the culture we live in.  Michael Jackson shared his thoughts on beer with us, and I urge you to share a beer with thoughts on this great man’s life.