I’ve been casting around the internet trying to find various sources for some reviews I’m writing for a new beer book and came across a wonderful video interview with the late great Michael Jackson over at Sheltonbrothers.com.
I spoke to and met Michael on several occasions and despite him being rather disparaging about commercial lagers in his writing, his view and knowledge was far more nuanced than you would think.
My first experience was when I’d been in Carlsberg for only a few months when I intercepted a phone call destined for someone else and on the end was a rather confused marketing person who had been told that the great Michael Jackson was turning up at the brewery that day and they didn’t know what to do with him. They were a little bit uncertain because the last time they had spoken to him he was researching beer for one of his books and was refusing to put Carlsberg Pilsner in because it wasn’t interesting enough. They in return were refusing to help with information on any of the other beers Carlsberg make.
In his usual forthright Yorkshire manner he’d told them that he didn’t want to speak to anybody in Marketing, he wanted to speak to someone who knew about beer (he told me later on the phone). A few frantic phone calls later we managed to get him hooked up with Anders Kissmeyer, who later left Carlsberg to found one of the first microbreweries in Denmark, and they spent an evening talking about beer.
He also came away with an appreciation of Carlsberg 47, the Vienna style lager that Carlsberg started producing in 1972 to commemorate the 125th anniversary of the founding of the brewery in 1847 . We managed to set him up with a container load for his US-based beer club.
The second time I met him was because I’d organised a yeast seminar for the British Guild of Beer Writers in Brewers’ Hall in London. We had Michael to give an introduction to the topic and then a more detailed lecture by the head of the Carlsberg Yeast Genetics department. He then very kindly invited us out for a meal at Belgo and we spent a fascinating evening with stories and recollections about beer and journalism.
The video by the Shelton Brothers brought all that back. So as I sit here and fight my way through several excellent Danish and Norwegian microbrews, I can’t help but raise a glass to the man who did more than anything else to get things moving.