Beer & Book Review: The Great Beers of Belgium – The new guide to Belgian beer culture, Michael Jackson, 1991, 1992, 1994, 1995, 1998, 2008

It is rare for two celebrities to share the exact same name. But two men found their way to top of their profession. Sadly both men have passed away but the legacy they have left in music and beer/whisky world are still felt today. These two men share little in common other than the name Michale Jackson. The musician may be more universally known, but for fans or fanatics of beer the presence of Michael Jackson, the beer writer, would excite them more if they happened to see him in their favorite watering hole.

Michael Jackson was a writer and journalist from England who often contributed to The Independent and The Observer magazines. He wrote fifteen books on Beer and Whisky and had a series of television shows called the Beer Hunter, which showcased British and American beer culture in the late 1980s and 1990s. If you do a quick search on YouTube you can find the Beer Hunter episodes. Sadly Mr. Jackson passed away in 2007, but the website Beer Hunter remains active and contains much of his writing.

What I liked about the book: The book is written much like a tour guide to Belgium where the traveler is visiting only breweries and disregarding all other cultural landmarks. For those who have watched the Beer Hunter episodes his writing is very similar to how he narrates the episodes. He describes not only several of the breweries but also several of the drinking establishments that showcase these beers in Belgium.

What I didn’t like about the book: The book is dated. It was first released in 1991 and last revised in 2007, just before Mr. Jackson’s death. Sadly much of the environment of beer in Belgium has changed. Some of this change is for the better in that Belgium beers are more popular and opportunities to enjoy these beers are greater than when the book was last revised. I think it would be very interesting if there is a modern revision to this beer litany classic. If Brewer’s Publications are reading this I am willing to take on the task.

Will it stay on my shelf: Definitely. This in my mind is a classic of beer writing. While some of the information may not be the most up to date the style of writing is something that I can continue to seek inspiration from.

Would I recommend this book for your library: I would definitely recommend this book to another beer enthusiast. The ways he describes beers and breweries seems always to be positive. I did not pick up on any brewery or beer style that he talked down to. This is an interesting approach to a beer critic. I am sure that there are faults or issues he picks up, but they can only be picked up in the absence of their mention vice highlighting the flaw. Definitely I feel that this is something that needs to bee seen more in beer writing and judging.

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