Sad news from Stan who is reporting the passing of Michael Jackson, the English beer writer who taught so much to so many of we beer geeks. Tonight, in his memory, you might raise a very good glass of one of the many somethings his writings illuminated for you.
Later. Such an outpouring of kind thoughts and stories for a person to whom each of us really owes a debt of gratitude. I pulled out my 1977 edition of The World Guide to Beer and noticed the bit of preface at the bottom of page 4 including this written by Michael Jackson thirty years ago:
This book was not written for brewers, though I hope they will find it interesting, and perhaps even useful. It is a book for the beer-drinker. Similar books have been written about the beers of individual nations, but such a wide-ranging coverage of the beer-drinking world has not been attempted before. There is much more to say about the great brewing nations, and the lesser ones, but authors - like brewers - have to find balance.That sort of sums up his career, even though it was written fairly early into it. His last column mentions the ennobled drinker, too. I am popping one of the beers he mentions in each of the books of his I own, a Thomas Hardy's Ale, this one a 2006 - two years younger than my last note. Somewhere between and beyond what a dubbel and whatever an imperial brown might be, it is massive at 13.3% with a rough textured whole grain burlapped quality that needs no spiced yeast or smoked toastiness. Just a celebration of the fundamentals of malt, with concentrated dried apple, pear with raisin or, as a better man wrote, "when it is young it can be as rich and creamy and meaty as beef broth."
After completing a labour no less weighty than this one, Samuel Johnson reminded his readers: "In this work, when it shall be found that much is omitted, let it not be forgotten that much likewise is performed." Where would we be without Dr Johnson? He liked his taverns, too, but he didn't have to drink while he was writing.