CNN/AP: Famed ‘beer hunter’ dies

LONDON, England (AP) — Michael Jackson, a leading world beer critic who praised the brews of Belgium and acknowledged he would never be as famous as “that Michael Jackson,” has died. He was 65.

Jackson, known as “the beer hunter,” died Thursday of a heart attack at his home in west London. His body was found by his house cleaner, Paddy Gunningham, his long-term partner, said Friday.

She said he had kept writing and traveling, despite suffering from Parkinson’s disease, and that he planned to write a book about the ailment.

“He was simply the best beer writer we’ve ever known,” said Tim Hampson, chairman of the British Guild of Beer Writers.

“He told wonderful stories about beer, breweries and far away places. He told the story of beer through people, and he was humorous and erudite at the same time,” Hampson told The Associated Press.

Jackson especially loved Belgian brews. His books “The Great Beers of Belgium” and “World Guide to Beer” introduced them to many export markets, including the United States.

By identifying beers by their flavors and styles, and by pairing them with particular foods and dishes, Jackson helped give birth to a renaissance of interest in beer and breweries worldwide that began in the 1970s, including the North American microbrewery movement.

His TV documentary series, “The Beer Hunter” — which popularized his nickname — was filmed around the world and shown in 15 countries.

He worked as a beer critic for more than 30 years, writing in newspapers and gastronomic magazines, holding seminars and giving speeches, appearing on U.S. talk shows and writing books about beer and whiskeys published in 18 languages.

Jackson knew he would never be as famous as Michael Jackson the rock star, and that was reflected on the beer critic’s Web site. “Hello, my name is Michael Jackson. No, not that Michael Jackson, but I am on a world tour. My tour is in pursuit of exceptional beer. That’s why they call me the Beer Hunter,” it says.

Very sad to hear. Michael Jackson helped me to learn most of what I know about beer, thanks to his Pocket Field Guide to Beer and The Great Beers of Belguim. I would definitely add though that the AP story understanded his renown and knowledge. He knew oodles about not only Belgian beers, but also could write in delectable detail about the many, many beers of Germany (particularly Bavaria), Britain, and the US. The man was nothing short of a virtuoso of the art of writing about beer. He made beer come alive, and set an example for beer lovers to embrace not only the glorious flavors of good beer but also the story behind good beers.

He will definitely be missed. I hope he’s enjoying a good beer right now in the hereafter (I reckon if Jesus could turn water into wine, then he could get Mr. Jackson a chalice of Chimay Blue or something equally good. — and for you heretics who think there won’t be beer in heaven, I say rubbish! Who would want to go to heaven if there wasn’t beer to drink? Ben Franklin said it best — “Beer is the proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.”)

Here’s a toast to you Mr. Jackson! You will be missed and you will be remembered!