Michael Jackson, the preeminent English beer and whiskey writer of the past 30 years, passed away last week at his London home from a heart attack. Jackson, often known as “The Beer Hunter” (the name of a TV series he hosted), was considered the dean of beer writers across the world, having almost single-handedly invented the niche of writing about beer in the 1970s. At that time he was a journalist who wanted to document what he considered special European beer styles, expecting them to entirely disappear within a few years. Instead, his passionate writing about beer flavors and styles, breweries large and small, beer history and the pairing of beer with food led to a renaissance of interest in beer and inspired a generation of craft and traditional brewers, as well as beer writers.
Jackson’s many books, such as The Great Beers of Belgium, The World Guide to Beer, Michael Jackson’s Beer Companion and Pocket Guide to Beer, were published in 30 languages. “The Beer Hunter” series was filmed around the world and shown in 15 countries. He spoke at numerous beer tastings and dinner; infact, Jackson was infamous for his digressions, but he always managed to come full-circle, ending up where he began. When a fellow beer writer said to him once after one of these digressions, “Michael, I was sure you were so far out on a limb that you’d never get home,” he smiled, there was a twinkle in his eye and he replied, “Well, sometimes I make it back.”
Jackson suffered from Parkinson’s disease, but he continued to write and travel. He is survived by Paddy Gunningham, his partner; a stepdaughter, Sam Hopkins; a sister, Heather Campbell; and two grandchildren.