Michael Jackson, 65, who was widely regarded as the English language’s leading writer and authority on beer and who earned the nickname “the beer hunter” after his TV documentary of the same name, died Thursday at his home in London after a heart attack. He had Parkinson’s disease.
Jackson, a British journalist, was also dubbed the “Bard of Beer” as he hopped around the world to write, lecture and (to much envy) sample dozens of distinctive brews every day. His books, which many brewers used as reference guides, sold millions of copies and were translated into more than a dozen languages.
Starting in the mid-1970s, Jackson was credited with reviving worldwide interest in a range of beer styles and traditions, some long-forgotten. He also helped popularize the Campaign for Real Ale and the U.S. microbrew movements, which championed better-quality beer.
His first major book was “The World Guide to Beer” (1977), and it was greeted with enthusiasm among beer connoisseurs. He followed with such best-selling volumes as “The New World Guide to Beer” in 1988 and “The Great Beers of Belgium” in 1992. He was also an expert on other spirits, and his book “Whiskey” won a James Beard Foundation award last year.
His six-part British television documentary “The Beer Hunter” (1990) was broadly seen as the first time on screen that beer received the same intricate attention as wine.
He also appeared in small bar settings and was a guest on late-night talk shows. He was a food-section columnist for the London Independent newspaper and contributed to Playboy, Food & Wine and the Washington Post, among other publications.
Survivors include his companion of 26 years, Paddy Gunningham of London; a daughter from his companion he helped raise, Sam Hopkins of Brighton, England; a sister; and two grandchildren.