Tag Archives: Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson — My Beer Professor

I wrote the post below last year on my other (now my professional) blog, Reid All About It. I mentioned yesterday that today would have been Michael Jackson’s 68th birthday so I wanted to bring this post over here where it belongs.


Today, March 27, would have been Michael Jackson’s 67th birthday. Whenever I mention his name, I get a confused look from people who can’t imagine why I’m going on about “the gloved one.” No, the Michael Jackson that I paid homage to tonight with a glass of one of my last Sierra Nevada 2008 Celebration Ales, was my professor of craft beer.

I’m not sure which of his books I read first. It was either The New World Guide to Beer or Michael Jackson’s Beer Companion, and more books followed. I started reading him in the early 90’s, and if not for him, I don’t think I would have ever thought to go to Belgium a few years later. That was a trip of incredible sensory experiences – the beautiful art of the Northern Renaissance and art nouveau periods and the glorious variety of beer styles.

Michael Jackson wrote about the brewing process, its history, the many different styles of beer, and the men and women who brewed them, all accompanied by beautiful photos of brewers and breweries, some sadly no longer with us.

The tales he told in his books captivated me. His passion for the craft of brewing and for the people in the industry came across in his writing — a respect for heritage and styles, but an excitement about innovation too. He loved the American craft beer scene, it was obvious. There was no hoity-toity English superiority in this guy when it came to our great beer.

I was lucky enough to hear him speak several times, and a few of my homebrewing friends had many an interesting tale to tell about him. They served as his driver and host when he came to speak in Washington DC, which he often did since our beer community was well established. I saw him at festivals or beer dinners in his rumpled jackets, tossled gray hair and beard, sometimes looking a bit of a wreck. But we hung on his every word, he was a brilliant witty speaker, had great stories, an amazing palate, and was the one man responsible for inspiring countless people to brew, to taste, to write, to learn and to share their passion with others.

Michael Jackson, I raise my glass to you tonight, sir. Thank you.

Fabulous Finds for March 26, 2010

Three of my favorite outdoors things — beer, barbecue and bluegrass — on one day in downtown Raleigh, the North Carolina Cuegrass Festival. According to the web site, “The Pit’s famous barbecue, cooked by The Pit’s legendary pitmaster Ed Mitchell, and North Carolina beers from LoneRider, Mother Earth, Carolina Brewing Company and Big Boss, will be served throughout the event.” Woo hoo, see you there!

You know The Thinker, don’t you? I thought I did too, but even a visit to the Rodin Museum in Paris didn’t tell me his true beginnings, or maybe it did but I was too tired to read the French. The North Carolina Museum of Art’s blog tells the story with a guest appearance by Robert Pinsky. I can’t wait to go. Their grand opening is on April 24.

I’ve always loved Jamie Oliver‘s cooking shows (Naked Chef) and recipes. In his recent TED talk he sounded the alarm about the food we’re providing at home and in school to children. He says that this generation of American children will die ten years earlier than their parents because of diet-related disease (already the biggest killer in the US). He is starting a ‘food revolution’ here, beginning with his anti-obesity project  in Huntington WV with accompanying TV show that debuts tonight. The sad thing is that  it’s a lot easier for busy people who don’t really know how to cook to buy processed junk than to make something from scratch. Maybe it’s time to put home-ec back onto school schedules.

I’ve been coming across a lot of info about canned sardines lately. There’s even a sardine society. I love love love all fishy oily fish. I have fond memories of my first taste of grilled fresh sardines in Portugal, where the aroma takes over the streets. Canned sardines are a good source of Omega-3, plus you can keep them handy in the pantry. I like them on crackers with cream cheese (with a dash of hot sauce or sriracha), and I’ve added them to pasta, but neither of those are ‘wow’ experiences. When Alton Brown lost 50 pounds, sardicado sandwiches (sardines and avocado) were one of his regular good eats. There’s definitely some wow potential there. And more wow in this Spanish potato recipe, Viudo (Widowed Potatoes). Better go check my sardine inventory.

I’ve been learning more about my Lithuanian heritage lately, including the fact that one of my heroes, Michael Jackson was partly Lithuanian. No, I’m not talking about that Michael Jackson, definitely not a hero, sorry. I’m talking about Michael Jackson the English beer writer, the one you haven’t heard of. I have Tom Cizauskas to thank for this bit of info about his Lithuanian heritage — Tom is one of my go-to sources about all things Lithuanian and craft beer. In a post (to be published tomorrow – I got a sneak peek in my Reader) he pays homage to Michael Jackson — tomorrow would have been his 68th birthday. I’ve written about Michael Jackson before on my other blog. He’s my hero because he was the one who really kindled my passion for craft beer. His books were my guides for travels and tastings. Sveiks!