A Toast to the Beer Hunter

Raise a pint this week to Michael Jackson, the renowned beer critic who shared a name with a troubled pop singer. Jackson died Thursday. He was 65.

Jackson called himself “The Beer Hunter,” and hosted a television series by that same name. His insatiable interest in the brew partially spawned the microbrew movement that foamed up throughout North America in the 1970s. His own particular passion, however, was Belgian ales, which he cataloged in Michael Jackson’s Great Beers of Belgium, among many other books. His catalog of beer styles remains definitive. He also wrote extensively about single malt scotch.

Trained as a newspaper reporter, he traveled the world researching his interests, and “chided the mainstream press for its beer provincialism,” as Daniel and Julie Bradford at All About Beer Magazine recall.

Jackson had been suffering from Parkinson’s disease, which visibly affected him during his appearances on shows such as Conan O’Brien, leading to speculation that he was drunk in public. In a tribute over at Beertown, Charlie Papazian says that Jackson was thinking of writing a memoir about his struggle against the disease, and that he joked about calling it I Am Not Drunk.

As a poster at MetaFilter noted, Jackson once wrote,

If I were for even a split second remembered for The Beer Hunter, I should smile in the hereafter as I shared a refreshing Duvel with my new drinking buddies.