In the beer world, Michael Jackson is a legend. I am not talking about the single-gloved pop star, I’m talking about another Michael Jackson, a British journalist and writer that championed the rise of craft brewing and wrote prolifically about the many wonderful aspects of beer.
Jackson’s 1977 book, The World Guide to Beer, is still considered one of the most seminal and definitive works on the subject. Much of the current wisdom on beer styles is based on this book, elevating Jackson to beer guru supreme. His later work, Michael Jackson’s Great Beers of Belgium, revealed his great affection for the beers of Belgium and contributed to the worldwide popularity of Belgian styles garnering him an appointment of honorary officer of the Ridderschap van de Roerstok in 1997. This award, presented to Jackson by the Crown Prince of Belgium, was previously only given to brewers in Belgium.
Jackson also appeared on a popular television program broadcast on The Discovery Channel called The Beer Hunter. Jackson considered beer as a component of culture and described beers in their cultural context. Jackson’s influence is widely credited for the popularization of the brewing culture in North America.
In December of 2006, it was revealed that Jackson had been suffering from Parkinson’s disease since the mid 1990’s as well as having diabetes. He died of a heart attack on August 2007 at the age of 65.
Now, according to an article on Beer Advocate (beeradvocate.com), a documentary incorporating rare footage of Jackson shot between 2004 and 2006 is being produced, but needs the assistance of the craft beer community.
According to the article, “…the film is an intimate tribute to the legendary British journalist and writer who championed the rise of craft brewing…”
A quote from the director in the Beer Advocate story says:
“I have over sixty hours of priceless footage of Michael that needs to be seen,” says Director J.R. Richards, “but we really need help to see us through the final stages. I also want to tell some of Michael’s story. There’s so much more to his career than many of his fans know.” To that end, the producers would like to gather current interviews from the world’s leading brewers, distillers, and writers talking about Michael’s history and his significant contributions towards craft brewing and distilling. According to J.R., “a film is the best way to actually bring people together, to raise a pint in honor of Michael. And Kickstarter seems the perfect platform for the craft brewing community to get involved directly in the success of this project.”
Kickstarter is the world’s largest funding platform for creative projects. Backers are rewarded at various levels, and backers of the Beer Hunter movie will be entitled to limited edition DVDs, t-shirts, posters, and VIP tickets to premiers, but only if the funding goal is reached by January 29th.
Pledges raised through Kickstarter will go towards gathering current footage and help provide for soundtrack, post-production, distribution and captioning costs. “We have backers and supporters from over 20 countries already, and potential screenings lined up on every continent,” according to J.R. “This is very much a grass-roots, global effort. We’d also like to make a series from all the footage not used in the film, to be distributed as an open-source, online archive for fans of Michael, and craft beer, around the world.” The producers are encouraging all screenings of the film to be fundraisers to benefit Parkinson’s research, and would like to hold annual events in Michael’s memory.
For more information on the campaign, see it on Kickstarter: