Have you ever wondered what it would be like to go back in time, and have a beer with an admired figure from the past? An old friend? A long gone relative? Or even someone who is still here with us, but you just can’t quite figure out how to ring up… Adele, or The Boss, or maybe Vinnie Cilurzo, Sam Calagione, or Kim Jordan?
If I could have a beer with anyone I wanted, it would be Michael Jackson. No, not the gloved one. The beery one. Imagine sitting down for a beer, or three, with such a personality. Michael Jackson breathed new life into how we looked at and enjoyed beer in the 1970’s, with a particular focus on Belgian beer and others from across the globe. As a beer writer and critic, he gave us a window into the world of “other beers from other places”; I certainly never saw anything in my Dad’s fridge other than Schlitz and Schaffer! He was instrumental in shaping how we would look at beer styles, pairing beer and food, traveling for beer, and developing an overall passion for beer!
Visiting Belgium for the first time in the mid 2000’s, I was able to draw on my limited experience with Jackson’s timeless book, The Great Beers of Belgium. Delirium Tremens, Kwak, Corsendonk, Leffe and Duvel were just a few of the beers I got to try. I tried Delirium Tremens more than a few times, in fact.
Jackson once said, “I want you to think about every beer you put to your lips. Very often I’m just walking along . . . and somebody wants to stop and shake hands and say ‘Hi, you introduced me to that really strange Belgian beer and my life’s never been the same since.’ Maybe the next time it will be you.” I would love to be able to sit with him and listen to his stories of tasting and traveling, of building friendships and forging a path for beer writers who would come after him, carrying the torch for the work Jackson had built decades before. I remember attending the Great American Beer Festival for the first time in 2008. Jackson had passed the year before at the age of 65. There were tribute banners hanging in the convention center, and his books were for sale at the merchandise table. There was something missing in that room, and everyone there knew, it was Michael Jackson, the Beer Hunter.
Co-Founder – Craft Beer Cellar & CBC Belmont
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