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Michael Jackson - Beer Hunter, Connoisseur and Writer

Michael Jackson - Beer Hunter
Michael Jackson (March 27, 1942 – 30 August 30, 2007) was an English writer and journalist. He was the author of several influential books about beer and whisky. Jackson was born in Wetherby, West Yorkshire. His father Isaac Jakowitz had Anglicised his Lithuanian Jewish surname to Jackson. He went to King James's School in Almondbury and became a journalist, most notably in Edinburgh where he first encountered whisky. On his return to London he briefly edited the advertising trade journal "Campaign".

Michael Jackson became famous in beer circles in 1977 when his book The World Guide To Beer was published. This was later translated into more than ten languages and is still considered to be one of the most fundamental books on the subject.


The modern theory of beer style is largely based on the work done by Michael Jackson in his 1977 book The World Guide To Beer in which Jackson categorised a variety of beers from around the world in local style groups suggested by local customs and names. His work had a special influence on the popularisation of the brewing culture in North America, and he would later host a popular show entitled The Beer Hunter, which was shown on Channel 4 and the Discovery Channel. During his 30 year career as a critic, he wrote columns for a large number of newspapers and magazines.

Jackson considered beer as a component of culture and described beers in their cultural context. Although he traveled around the world and discovered different beer cultures, he was especially fond of the Belgian beers. He was appointed to an honorary officer of the Ridderschap van de Roerstok in 1997 for his important contribution to the international success of the Belgian beers. This honour had previously only been given to brewers. In 1998, Jackson brought forth his own line of beer glassware. Shortly after, Jackson also helped create and worked with the only beer club he ever endorsed, Michael Jackson's Rare Beer Club.

Michael Jackson was also an important reviewer of whiskies. In his book The Malt Whisky Companion, he reviewed a large number of whiskies and them gave marks from 0–100, considering only those with a score above seventy-five worth purchasing. In many ways, his work in the world of whisky exceeded his significance as a beer writer. He was arguably the most important writer on whisky since the Victorian commentator Alfred Barnard and certainly the most significant and influential modern whisky writer. This was recognized by the prestigious award of "Master of the Quaich" and the prodigious sale of his whisky books and sell-out attendances at his tastings. He had enormous influence on the development of single malt whisky globally.

Apart from his work as a journalist and a critic, he was also a great fan of rugby league. It was revealed in December 2006 that Michael Jackson "is and has been suffering for at least a decade from Parkinson's Disease." He also suffered from diabetes. Michael Jackson died of a heart attack in his home the morning of 30 August 2007 at the age of 65.
Michael Jackson's Books
(1976) The English Pub
(1977) The World Guide to Beer
(1986) Pocket Guide to Beer
(1987) The World Guide to Whisky
(1988) New World Guide to Beer
(1991) Michael Jackson's Great Beers of Belgium
(1997) Michael Jackson's Beer Companion
(1998) Ultimate Beer
(1998) Little Book on Beer
(1999) Michael Jackson's complete guide to Single Malt Scotch
(2001) Scotland and its Whiskies
(2004) The Malt Whisky Companion
(2005) Bar and Cocktail Party Book
(2005) Whisky


Personal Story with Michael Jackson
In 1990, after touring several Canadian microbreweries with Michael  Jackson, Michael finally came down to visit my brewery in Helen, Georgia. After a two hour car ride, my partners and I got to know the true Michael Jackson. He told us how much he enjoyed local foods and local people, not 5 star restaurants. So, after a evening of drinking beer and eating german bratwurst, the following morning, we took him to a local Waffle House so he could experience all the different ways you can experience hash browns.  He took alot of notes on how hash browns can be served scattered, smootherd, covered, topped, and chunked and enjoyed talking to the cook.  He had to catch a flight at 9:00 the following morning, but we will never forget Waffle House breakfast. 

Dow Scoggins
Friends Brewing(1989-1998)
BeerInfo Editor

Michael Jackson & Frank Cronin
at the Helenboch Brewery - 1990


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