An Aside That Want Awry: On Michael Jackson (the Beer Hunter, not the singer)

This was going to be a post about Crown Brewery’s Smokin’ Oktoberfest with a lengthy aside. Now the aside has become a ramble, so I’m going to give this a post of itself, and give you the beer notes later. Carry on.

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Michael Jackson's Great Beers of Belgium

Michael Jackson's Great Beers of Belgium

I’m going to start with an aside, maybe two, or even three. In short, I’m going to have a bit of a babble here. Why? Well because it’s my bloody blog and I don’t have to worry about reader numbers, sales and all that (apart from Wikio rankings, natch, check out my proud #65, right at the bottom of the pack).

I’ve recently been reading a lot of the great Michael Jackson’s (the drinker, not the singer) Great Beers of Belgium book, on top of that, I’ve been reading selected prose by Woody Allen. I know that Jackson is held in great regard, nay, reverence, by much of the beer writing community, but I’m not sure about this book.

Ok, so that’s quite a bold statement (tantamount to heresy for some, I’d wager). Sure, he was one of the first people to really write about and promote great beer, to talk extensively about food and beer pairings, and he may have introduced a lot of us to the wonders (for they are many) of Belgian beer. But, for a man with such a passion for that lovely stuff, this book doesn’t really display it.

The reason I mentioned Woody Allen before, is because his writing is vivid, lurid and flies along (and I was reading it on the bus just before I started writing). He’s a man with a love of words and language, and you can feel it, but The Great Beers of Belgium reads more like a text book with a few nice emotional touches than the words of a man filled with lust and desire for all the astounding delights available in Belgium. Sure, it’s a better text book than most, and still a pretty good read, but I just don’t feel any emotion from the man as I read it. And that’s what I wanted.

But maybe he’s not the one to blame. There are so many of us buggers writing about beer today that we’re spoilt for choice. When Jackson first wrote this book, I’d wager that tasting notes for beer were scant and seldom read. Now the internet’s full of the bloody things and only a few people with a pizazz for the writing of them can make them shine as thrilling works of journalism (NB I’m NOT including myself in this list), others, while very good and enjoyable, would not make a must read book if printed out, stapled together and sold with a nice cover.

Now I’m going to hold my hands up here and admit that I’ve not read any thing else by Jackson, yet. I have seen some of his ‘Beer Hunter’ TV series though and love that. Maybe elsewhere what I find lacking in this book may be apparent. Or maybe the world of beer writing has hurried along and left Jackon’s books a bit dated. Please tell me, recommend me pieces of his to read, I will happily retract the above if I just need to come in from a different angle on his work.

Anyway, enough upsetting of Jackson and every blogger who reads this, I’m off to write some tasting notes on Crown Brewery’s Smokin’ Oktoberfest, and yes, I know, I’m kinda contradicting my argument up there by running off and doing some tasting notes. But I don’t care. I like doing it.

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