Beer Birthday: Michael Jackson

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Today would have been Michael Jackson’s 73rd birthday. I first met Michael in the early 1990s, shortly after my first beer book was published. He is all but single-handedly responsible for the culture of better beer that exists today. He began writing about good beer in the 1960s and 70s and his writing has influenced (and continues to influence) generations of homebrewers and commercial brewers, many of whom were inspired to start their own breweries by his words. There are few others, if any, that have been so doggedly persistent and passionate about spreading the word about great beer. I know some of my earliest knowledge and appreciation of beer, and especially its history and heritage, came from Michael’s writings. Michael passed away in August 2007, eight years ago. I still miss him, and I suspect I’m not the only one. A couple of years ago, J.R. Richards’ new documentary film about Michael Jackson, Beer Hunter: The Movie, debuted, which I helped a tiny bit with as a pioneer sponsor.

I did an article four years ago for Beer Connoisseur, for their Innovator’s Series, entitled Michael Jackson: The King of Beer Writers, A personal look back at the man who made hunting for beer a career. I reached out to a number of people who also knew Michael for their remembrances as well as my own, and as a result I’m pretty pleased with the results (although the original draft was almost twice as long).

I’ll again be playing some jazz and having a pint of something yummy in his honor, which has become my tradition for March 27, which I’ve also started declaring to be “Beer Writer’s Day.” Join me in drinking a toast to Michael Jackson, the most influential modern beer writer who’s ever lived.

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At the Great Divide Brewing’s media party in Denver over fifteen years ago.

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On stage accepting the first beer writing awards from the Brewers Association with Jim Cline, GM of Rogue, Stan Hieronymus, who writes Real Beer’s Beer Therapy among much else, and Ray Daniels, formerly of the Brewers Association.

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At GABF in 2006, still wearing the same glasses. But my, oh my, have I changed. Sheesh.

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With Carolyn Smagalski receiving an award at Pilsner Urquell.

Beer Birthday: Jeff Bell

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Today is the 36th birthday of Jeff Bell, whose alter ego was, until a few years ago, Stonch, one of England’s best bloggers. He had retired from blogging to concentrate on his new job as landlord of a London pub, The Gunmakers, in Clerkenwell, a village in the heart of London. I stopped by to meet Jeff on my way back from a trip to Burton-on-Trent a few years ago. And four years back, I saw Jeff several times during GBBF week. But last fall, the blogging started up again, a year or so ago he moved on from that pub, and instead is now the landlord of the Finborough Arms in Earl’s Court, next to the Finborough Theatre. I hope I’ll get a chance to visit his new place on my next trip to London. Join me in wishing Jeff a very happy birthday.

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Jeff Bell, a.k.a. Stonch, at The Gunmakers Pub in central London.

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With a Gunmaker’s bartender at the British Beer Writers Guild event before the start of the Great British Beer Festival in 2009.

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In front of Gunmaker’s in the summer of 2009.

Beer In Ads #1405: Hay, Good Wholesome Beer


Monday’s ad is for the Brewers’ Society, from 1956. Similar to the ads in America by the United States Brewers Foundation that ran around the same time, the British ads used taglines like “Good Wholesome BEER” and “The best long drink in the world!” After working in the fields all day, making giant hay bales, who wouldn’t be dreaming of a pint of beery goodness? But I love the way they put it. “Beer refreshes you all right — but it does much more than that. It’s an invigorating drink. Beer bucks you up as well as cools you down.”

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Beer Birthday: Mark Dredge

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Today is the 30th birthday of Mark Dredge, who writes the beer blog Pencil and Spoon from his home in Kent, England. I’ve had the pleasure of drinking with Mark on his last three trips across the pond. The first time, at the opening gala for SF Beer Week, four years ago at the Beer Bloggers Conference in Boulder, Colorado, and more recently judging at GABF. By day, he works in digital marketing and social media, most recently for Pilsner Urquell, and by night, he’s “a beer writer and blogger.” In December 2009, he won the British Guild of Beer Writers New Media Writer of the Year for Pencil and Spoon. If you don’t read his stuff, you should. Join me in wishing Mark a very happy birthday.

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Mark, at left, having lunch at Mountain Sun in Boulder, Colorado during the Beer Bloggers Conference a few years ago.

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Raising a toast.

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Mark and his fiancee, Lauren.

Note: The last two photos were purloined from Facebook.

Beer Birthday: Melissa Cole

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Today is the 39th birthday of Melissa Cole, UK beer writer extraordinaire. I’d met Melissa first online and then in person at the Rake in London a few years ago. She’s also been coming over to our side of the pond to judge at both GABF and the World Beer Cup. She’s a great advocate for beer generally, but especially for women, and is great fun to hang out and drink with. She also writes online at Taking the Beard Out of Beer! which is subtitled “A Girl’s Guide To Beer.” Her first book, Let Me Tell You About Beer, was published not too long ago. Join me in wishing Melissa a very happy birthday.

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At the Great British Beer Festival three years ago, with Roger Protz.

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Melissa with Greg Koch, from Stone Brewing, at GABF in 2009.

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The Lost Abbey’s Tomme Arthur with a blushing Melissa at the World Beer Cup dinner in Chicago a few years ago.

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A couple of years ago at the Rake in London, Melissa and Matt Brynildson, from Firestone Walker.

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With friends at University sometime between 1993-97 (photo purloined from Facebook).

Beer Birthday: Ron Pattinson

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Today is the 58th birthday of Ron Pattinson, a brewing historian who writes online at Shut Up About Barclay Perkins. Ron lives in Amsterdam but is obsessed with the British brewery Barclay Perkins, which is what the title of his blog refers to. I have not yet had the pleasure of meeting Ron in person, though we’ve corresponded several times. Lew Bryson had a chance to go drinking with Ron a few years ago. Join me in wishing Ron a very happy birthday.

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Ron while drinking with Lew Bryson.

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At Pretty Things 1901: Jim Barnes, Dann Paquette (Pretty Things), Jay Sullivan (Cambridge Brewing) and Ron Pattinson.

At GBBF

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I love the Great British Beer Festival, and it’s a crying shame I don’t get over the pond often enough to attend it. Happily, Mark Dredge, who in addition to Pencil & Spoon, has been doing some work for Pilsner Urquell, had a camera crew follow him around the hall at the Great British Beer Festival. He’s created a short video giving a flavor of what it’s like to be there. So if, like me, you missed it this year, here’s at least a glimpse at what being there be like. Enjoy.

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Beer Birthday: Ben McFarland

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Today is UK beer writer Ben McFarland’s birthday. I first met Ben when he was over here working on the CAMRA beer guide to the west coast with Tom Sandham and Glenn Payne. We invited Ben to join us judging Double IPA’s at the Bistro’s Double IPA Festival, which I believe was something of a shock to the system for both Ben and Tom. These days he and Tom are The Thinking Drinkers, performing their “‘The Thinking Drinker’s Guide to Alcohol,’ a unique comedic drinking show that debuted at the 2011 Edinburgh Fringe.'” Join me in wishing Ben a very happy birthday.

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Ben judging at the Double IPA Festival at the Bistro in Hayward while he was working on the CAMRA guide to the west coast of the U.S. in 2007.

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Taken at the CLASS Awards, by CLASS Magazine.

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Taken somewhere in the U.S. of A.

Note: The last two photos were purloined from Facebook.

Beer Birthday: Glenn Payne

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Today is also the 60th birthday of Glenn Payne, an Englishman wearing many beer hats. I first met Glenn many moons ago when he was the beer buyer for Safeway in the UK. Since then, we’ve judged together many times at both GABF and the World Beer Cup, and I think once at the Great British Beer Festival, too. He’s been involved with Meantime Brewing among too many projects for me to keep track of, and he’s been a great ambassador for British beer but, perhaps more importantly, for American beer in Great Britain. Join me in wishing Glenn a very happy birthday. Cheers, mate.

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Glen, with Melissa Cole, at GABF in 2009.

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With Chris and Cheryl Black, owners of the Falling Rock, Mark Dorber, formerly the publican of the White Horse in London (and now owner of the Anchor) and Glenn Payne at the Brewers Reception at Wynkoop during GABF Week in 2007.

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Glenn with Greg Koch, from Stone Brewing, also at GABF in 2009.

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Glenn accepting a World Beer Cup award on behalf of a British brewery who couldn’t be there in 2008.

Beer Birthday: Pete Brown

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Today is the 46th birthday of Pete Brown, author of Shakespeare’s Pub and Hops and Glory. Pete was also the winner of the UK Beer Writer of the Year in 2010. I had a chance to meet and spend some time with Pete before and at GBBF in 2009. He’s a kindred spirit, especially when it comes to neo-prohibitionist shenanigans, and writes one of the most engaging beer blogs out there. Join me in wishing Pete a very happy birthday.

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Pete with Steve Parkes at a British Beer Writers event before GBBF a few years ago.

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Pete and me at GBBF in 2009.