Most, if not all, of us who write about beer, and by extension blog about it, would not have a job were it not for one man: Michael Jackson. I think most of us who’ve been doing this for at least a few years now feel that way. I first met Michael at GABF in the early 1990s and feel honored to have been able to call him a friend as well as a colleague. When I did a profile piece on Michael for Beer Connoisseur magazine earlier this year, it was quite personal, and I polled a number of my colleagues and brewers about their feelings on Michael’s legacy so it wouldn’t just be in my voice. Their response was overwhelming and I struggled to use as many of the quotes they sent me as I could. As it was, the article ballooned to nearly twice the word count I was contracted for, because there was just so much to cover.
So I was thrilled when John Richards contacted me earlier this year to tell me about the documentary/biography film he’s working on: The Beer Hunter. In fact, I got on board right away and put my money where my mouth is, becoming a sponsor. That’s how much I’d really like to see this film be made and released. He’d also been doing some informal fund-raising and I know others have also donated to this worthy endeavor, but that’s only taken him so far.
The filmmaker has turned to Kickstarter to raise additional funds, hopefully for the last time (though if my experience in how these things go is any guide, probably not), in an effort to finish the film. He also has some additional lofty goals, including editing additional footage just for the DVD, creating a public archive from the entire library of footage to be housed at London’s Oxford-Brookes University (where Jackson’s print library is located) and set up a non-profit Michael Jackson Memorial Foundation. There is also a lot of additional information at the Kickstarter page and the Beer Hunter movie website, too.
So I’d encourage every single person who’s been touched by Jackson’s work to donate to get this film made. No matter how small, I’m sure it will be appreciated. If you’ve learned about the beer you love through any or all of Michael’s many books on beer and whisky, help keep his memory and legacy alive. Help make sure future generations know who Michael Jackson was, and how important he was to the craft beer scene that exists today, but might not have without his exhaustive efforts. And perhaps most important of all, help to create a film record, a living memory to show him at his best; talking about beer, educating people about beer and enjoying beer, too, an endeavor which he spent nearly four decades perfecting. There was really no one like him. I, for one, would love it for that to be a part of the permanent record of craft beer’s history.
Michael and me at Denver’s Great Divide in the mid-1990s.