Michael Jackson’s Writing for CAMRA 1977–1988

Michael Jackson's World of Beer header from What's Brewing, 1985.

Like 80 per cent of those who write about beer in anything like a professional capacity, we’ve been commissioned to write a substantial piece about Michael ‘The Beer Hunter’ Jackson as the tenth anniversary of his death approaches.

As part of that, we’ve been exchang­ing emails with Alan ‘A Good Beer Blog’ McLeod who is a not­ed Jack­son scep­tic. He habit­u­al­ly ques­tions whether Mr Jackson’s influ­ence was as great as the con­sen­sus would have it, and whether oth­er influ­en­tial writ­ers (Richard Boston, Dave Line) aren’t being short-changed by Jackson’s ele­va­tion.

One spe­cif­ic ques­tion he put to us was this: what exact­ly was Jack­son writ­ing between the World Guide to Beer in 1977 and the next item on his Wikipedia bib­li­og­ra­phy, a 1986 pock­et guide to beer? How could he be so influ­en­tial with one book every ten years?

One answer is that that real­ly is only a select­ed bib­li­og­ra­phy – we have a copy, for exam­ple, of the 1982 Pock­et Guide to Beer, which is the one vet­er­an brew­ers we have spo­ken to car­ried with them as they explored Europe and the US in the 1980s, and there were paper­back reprints/revisions of the World Guide too.

But, as is often the case, Alan’s nig­gling has high­light­ed a real issue: the lack of a com­pre­hen­sive list of Michael Jackson’s writ­ing for mag­a­zines and news­pa­pers which, of course, is ephemer­al by nature.

For the sake of the col­lec­tive brain, and also because it’s use­ful for our arti­cle, we agreed to make a start on a list of mate­r­i­al pub­lished in the UK. We’ve start­ed with the month­ly col­umn he wrote for CAMRA, a fil­let­ing of which is repro­duced below with notes on the con­tent of each arti­cle.

If you see any­thing there that might help with your research drop us an email (contact@boakandbailey.com) and we’ll be hap­py to pro­vide more infor­ma­tion.

The hard­er job, now, is track­ing down the mate­r­i­al he wrote for the nation­al press in the same peri­od. We have searched The Times and Guardian archives but if you have clip­pings, or per­haps have access to the Sun­day Times archive online through your local library ser­vice, we’d wel­come any tips.

* * *

Articles by Michael Jackson in the CAMRA newspaper What’s Brewing from 1977 to 1988
  • Like Our Beer, It’s Unique’, May 1978, p.7. A review of the 1978 CAMRA Good Beer Guide.
  • Bot­toms up! US Gets Taste for Ale Again’, March 1979, p.5. News of a resur­gence of inter­est in beers oth­er than lite lager in the US.
  • First Sip Your Ale – Then Spit’, June 1980, p3. First of a series of month­ly columns with an account of a beer-tast­ing din­ner with wine writ­ers in San Fran­cis­co, the growth of US micro-brew­ing, and the poten­tial for a US beer puri­ty law to hit ‘lite’ lagers.
  • Oh, My Dar­ling Bal­lan­tine’, August 1980, pp.6–7.
  • A Knight in Shin­ing Armour’, Sep­tem­ber 1980, p.9. The suc­cess of CAMRA and its glob­al influ­ence; the pop­u­lar­i­ty of Euro­pean beer in the UK.
  • The Trusty Bull­dog That Defied Courage’, Octo­ber 1980, p.6. Pro­file of Courage Bull­dog Strong Ale first brewed for the Bel­gian mar­ket.
  • Trac­ing the French Con­nec­tion’, Novem­ber 1980, p.9. Pro­file of a Bière de Garde, St Léonard, then being much import­ed into the UK and brewed at Facon in Boulogne.
  • Odd Island Of Ale in a Lager Sea’, Decem­ber 1980, p.13. Pro­file of Farson’s brew­ery in Mal­ta.
  • Mak­ing Lite of the Facts’, Jan­u­ary 1981, p.9. The dif­fer­ence between lager and ale; the way lager is adver­tised; the Amer­i­can consumer’s pref­er­ence for lite lager.
  • Try the Odd Bot­tle for a True Lager’, Feb­ru­ary 1981, p.9. Pro­file of Grolsch.
  • Cam­paign Spreads Across the Chan­nel’, April 1981, p.5. How CAMRA has inspired con­sumer groups and micro­brew­eries in Bel­gium.
  • Land of White and Wild Beers’, April 1981, pp6-7. Dou­ble-page fea­ture on the beers and cafes of Bel­gium.
  • Name Britain’s 50 Best Beers’, May 1981, p.6. Dis­cus­sion of the best British beers in a range of styles and a request for read­ers to sub­mit their own lists.
  • Where Lager Sales Have Come to an “Alt”’, June 1981, pp.6–7. On the pop­u­lar­i­ty of Alt­bier in Düs­sel­dorf.
  • Tiny Tremors in the Big Coun­try’, July 1981, pp.6–7. An account of British brew­ery Vaux to move into the US mar­ket and a round-up of notable US micro­brew­eries.
  • Here’s Your Choice of Beers’, August 1981, p.7. Fol­low up to ‘Name Britain’s 50 Best Beers’, above, with dis­cus­sion of pos­si­ble new style cat­e­gories, e.g. ‘strong dark mild’.
  • Don’t Kill of Our Old Friend’, Sep­tem­ber 1981, p.8. The threat of extinc­tion for impe­r­i­al stout as a style with reviews of some notable exam­ples.
  • Lager Could Dig the Grave of the Big Six’, Octo­ber 1981, p.4. The aver­age strength of lager sub-styles; the poor qual­i­ty of British-brewed lager; and a call for a lager equiv­a­lent of CAMRA.
  • Is Fear Our Only Future?’, Novem­ber 1981, p.7. How mass-mar­ket­ing and brew­ery con­sol­i­da­tions are reduc­ing con­sumer choice world­wide.
  • Sort­ing Out the Whites’, Decem­ber 1981, p.9. The dif­fer­ence between South­ern Ger­man wheat beer and Berlin­er Weisse.
  • Whisky in the Jar?’, Jan­u­ary 1982, p.9. Beers with whisky malt and Ger­man Rauch­bier.
  • Pat­ter of Tiny Waltz Steps’, Feb­ru­ary 1982, p.13. An overview of beer in Aus­tria.
  • World of Beer: Wheatamix Ser­i­al’, March 1982, p.9. The Amer­i­can Home­brew­ers’ Association’s annu­al con­ven­tion, micro-brew­eries in the US, wheat beer.
  • World of Beer – Spe­cial Report: Giants Stir in Ger­many and Wake New Fears’, April 1982, pp.6–7. On brew­ery con­sol­i­da­tion and takeovers.
  • World of Beer: How to Go Dutch’, May 1982, p.9. An overview of Dutch beer with rec­om­men­da­tions.
  • World of Beer: All the Fun of the Fair’, June 1982, p.7. Ger­man beer fes­ti­vals with cal­en­dar.
  • Fer­ment­ing States – Play it Again, Sam’, July 1982, p.9. An account of judg­ing at the Great Amer­i­can Beer Fes­ti­val with David Bruce.
  • Take the Abbey Road’, August 1982, p.9. Pro­file of the Schaap­skoi monas­tic brew­ery in Tilburg, Hol­land; and the sale of De Rid­der to Heineken.
  • Mys­tery of the East’, Sep­tem­ber 1982, p.8. An account of a blind-tast­ing for the Sun­day Times and a round-up of Asian beers.
  • Cur­ry Quencher’, Octo­ber 1982, p.9. On pair­ing Dort­munder lagers with Indi­an food.
  • Talk on the Wild Side’, Novem­ber 1982, p.8. An overview of Bel­gian lam­bic beers.
  • The Lan­guage of Lam­bic’, Decem­ber 1982, p.8. Fur­ther detail on lam­bic with rec­om­mend­ed beers and cafes in Bel­gium.
  • Amer­i­can Taste Begins to Grow Up’, Jan­u­ary 1983, p.8. Bert Grant, Red Hook, and their very bit­ter, hop­py beers.
  • Inside Cana­da – Where “Pigs” Must Fly’, Feb­ru­ary 1983, p.8. An account of the found­ing of CAMRA branch­es in Cana­da and an overview of the beer scene.
  • XXot­ic Imports’, March 1983, p.7. An overview of inter­est­ing beers from Mex­i­co.
  • Worth Czech­ing Out’, April 1983, p.9. An overview of beer in Czecho­slo­va­kia with rec­om­mend­ed beers and bars.
  • Iron Cur­tain Brews – Hop Poles and Ros­es’, June 1983, p.9. Beers in East Ger­many and Poland.
  • Young Amer­i­cans Get the Amber Light’, July 1983, p.11. The micro-brew­ing rev­o­lu­tion in New York.
  • On the Scent of Cologne’s Home-brew­ers’, August 1983, p.9. The first part of an overview of Kölsch.
  • Cloud­ing Over a Lack of Pedi­gree’, Sep­tem­ber 1983, p.8. Part two of the above focus­ing on Wiess, i.e. unfil­tered Kölsch.
  • Brew­ing Up a New Demon Drink’, Octo­ber 1983, p.9. Pro­file of the then new Hop­du­v­el brew­pub in Ghent, Bel­gium.
  • In the Grip of Belgium’s Abbey Habit’, Novem­ber 1983, p.13. An overview of Bel­gian abbey-style beers.
  • A Potent Reli­gion’, Decem­ber 1983, pp.6–7. Part two of the above focus­ing on Chi­may.
  • Wor­shipped as the Very Best’, Jan­u­ary 1984, p.8. About Orval.
  • Behind the Red Bam­boo Cur­tain’, Feb­ru­ary 1984, p.9. Beer in Chi­na.
  • The Black Beau­ties of Cork – Ireland’s Oth­er Stout Fel­lows’, March 1984, p.9. An overview of Murphy’s and Beamish.
  • Inside Czecho­slo­va­kia – Where Pils Has Pride of Place’, May 1984, p.8. An account of a CAMRA study trip.
  • Stag­ger­ing Through the States’, July 1984, p.9. Reviews of books by Stephen Mor­ris and Bill Mares.
  • The Odd bars of Boston’, August 1984, p.9.
  • American’s “Beer Con­scious­ness” Fes­ti­val – Boul­der Event Rolls Onwards’, Sep­tem­ber 1984, p.13. An account of the Great Amer­i­can Beer Fes­ti­val.
  • Land of the Ris­ing Mim­ic’, Octo­ber 1984, p.8. An overview of a trip to Japan.
  • Japan’s Dark Sur­pris­es’, Novem­ber 1984, p.9. Japan­ese-brewed stouts and oth­er dark beers.
  • Flan­ders Top Ten’, Jan­u­ary 1985, p.12. On Bel­gian ‘gourmet beers’; note on the Man­hat­tan Brew­ing Com­pa­ny, New York.
  • Booz­ing and Los­ing Weight’, April 1985, p.13. Com­men­tary on Dr Mar­tin Lipp’s ‘beer diet’ book.
  • Why We’re in a Bland Alley’, May 1985, p3. An argu­ment against con­ser­vatism with­in CAMRA – flavour and vari­ety are more impor­tant than dog­ma.
  • Reward the True Brew­ers’, June 1985, p.11. A com­plaint about the ten­den­cy to view beer as a com­mod­i­ty to be mar­ket­ed, and a plea for greater appre­ci­a­tion of small brew­eries using tra­di­tion­al meth­ods.
  • Behold the Mad Brew­ers’, July 1985, p.11. A pro­file of De Dolle Brouw­ers of Essen.
  • World of Beer: Cafes Strong in Choice’, August 1985, p.11. A sur­vey of new small brew­eries in Bel­gium.
  • World of Beer: A Brew­ery with Tons of Ves­sels’, Sep­tem­ber 1985, p.11. A vis­it to the brew­ing muse­um at Martens’ brew­ery in Lim­burg, Bel­gium.
  • New Beer Cam­paign Launched – Hold­ing onto all the Pieces in Belgium’s Baf­fling Beer Jig­saw’, Octo­ber 1985, p.15. More new Bel­gian micro­brew­eries; the rise in brew­ery num­bers in Bel­gium; and the found­ing of The Objec­tive Beer Tasters.
  • Sea­son­al Sur­pris­es in the States – Pio­neer­ing Spir­it Stirs Again Out West’, Novem­ber 1985, p.11. A round-up of Ger­man-style beers being brewed by US micro­brew­eries includ­ing Wid­mer.
  • World of Beer: Now the Ger­man Brew­ers “Think Small”’, Decem­ber 1985, p.15. Brew­ing in Dort­mund and the found­ing of Hövels brew­house.
  • Organ­ic Ales – Brew­ing Good Beer for Health’, Jan­u­ary 1986, p.15. Ger­man organ­ic brew­eries includ­ing Pinkus of Mün­ster and Haus­brauerei Alt­stadthof or Nurem­berg.
  • The Odd Case of Henry’s Stout – Hunt­ing Black Vel­vet in Aus­tria’, Feb­ru­ary 1986, p.15. Pro­files of the Nuss­dor­fer (von Echt) brew­ery.
  • The Ones to Try’, March 1986, pp.6–7. Fea­ture accom­pa­ny­ing a list of every beer then being import­ed into the UK.
  • World of Beer: Two Dark Secrets off the Tip of India’, April 1986, p.15. Sur­vey of inter­est­ing beer and brew­ing in Sri Lan­ka.
  • Trop­i­cal Tod­dy – The Stag­ger­ing Coconut Brew’, May 1986, p15. Fer­ment­ed coconut pod sap in Sri Lan­ka.
  • Old­est Beer in the West’, June 1986, p.11. Ancient brew­ing meth­ods, lam­bic, and a sur­vey of lam­bic beers.
  • Taste Before Tech­nol­o­gy – Belgium’s Red Rev­o­lu­tion That Stayed Sour’, July 1986, p.15. Pro­file of Roden­bach.
  • Felled by the Mighty Bush’, August 1986, p.15. The ales of North-West Bra­bant.
  • Lust­ing After the Hop’s Caress’, August 1986, p.15. An account of the Amer­i­can Home-Brew­ers’ Asso­ci­a­tion annu­al com­pe­ti­tion.
  • Find­ing Heav­en in the Forests of Fran­co­nia’, Sep­tem­ber 1986, p.11. Com­ments on Fran­con­ian beer and rec­om­men­da­tions for guide­books.
  • Vin­tage Brews: Ale Not to be Sniffed at’, Octo­ber 1986, p.11. Thomas Hardy, Courage Impe­r­i­al Russ­ian, Chi­may, and the effects of aging beer.
  • Boston Beer Par­ty’, Novem­ber 1986, p.15. The Com­mon­wealth Brew­ing Co, Boston.
  • America’s Live­ly New Brew­ery Quar­ter’, Novem­ber 1986, p.15. Bou­tique brew­eries and tap­hous­es in Port­land, Ore­gon.
  • A Drop of the Real­ly Tough Stuff’, Decem­ber 1986, p.11. Samich­laus and oth­er super-strong Ger­man-style beers.
  • Tast­ing the Ital­ian Beer Style Sur­prise’, Jan­u­ary 1987, p.11. A report of beers encoun­tered on a hol­i­day in North­ern Italy.
  • Time to Cry “Hail Ale” in Britain’, Feb­ru­ary 1987, p.15. A defense of focus­ing on the pos­i­tive in beer writ­ing and crit­i­cism of ‘cranky cap­tious crit­ics’.
  • Charg­ing Down the African Thirst’, March 1987, p.15. Tusker and the state of brew­ing in Kenya.
  • Kro­nen Brings Back its Ancient Crown’, April 1987, p.15. Kronen’s launch of a sub-brand, Wenker, in Dort­mund.
  • Wav­ing the Union Joke’, May 1987, p.13. Why it is wrong to assume the import­ing of British beer is good news for Ger­man drinkers.
  • Ale Fights Back’, June 1987, p.13. How many world beers are brewed more like ale than lager; overviews of ale-brew­ing in Ontario and Aus­tralia.
  • Kala­ma­zoo Copies British Ale in Style’, July 1987, p.17. A sur­vey of micro-brew­ing in Mid­dle Amer­i­ca with a box-out report on judg­ing from the GABF.
  • The Name IS the Game’, August 1987, p.11. On the dif­fi­cul­ties of being the go-to rentaquote on beer and pubs and the pop­u­lar­i­ty of bad lagers.
  • Scal­ing the Peak of Per­fec­tion’, August 1987, p.11. A pro­file of Sum­mit Brew­ing of Min­neapo­lis, Min­neso­ta.
  • A Brew­ers’ Dozen Round the Bay’, Sep­tem­ber 1987, p.15. An overview of new brew­eries in San Fran­cis­co.
  • Amer­i­ca Needs its Beer Fes­ti­val’, Octo­ber 1987, p.11. A defence of the GABF after it was crit­i­cised by Vince Cot­tone and oth­ers for sex­ist mar­ket­ing, among oth­er offences.
  • Ale Grows Out of the Vine­yards’, Octo­ber 1987, p.11. A sur­vey of new brew­eries in Cal­i­for­nia.
  • Bot­toms Up!’, Novem­ber 1987, p.13. Aass brew­ery of Nor­way and com­plaints about being mis­quot­ed in the Today
  • When A Beer Goes to Sleep’, Decem­ber 1987, p.15. On aging bot­tle-con­di­tioned beers such as Lees Har­vest Ale.
  • The Under­ground Move­ment for a Drop of “Real Malt”’, Jan­u­ary 1988, p.11. How whisky appre­ci­a­tion mir­rors that of beer, accom­pa­ny­ing a review of and blurb for his book about whisky.
  • Frisians Final­ly Fol­low the Herd’, Feb­ru­ary 1988, p.12. A new brew­ery in the Frisian-Dutch vil­lage of Uitwellinger­ga.
  • New Lager Reach­es the Bit­ter End’, March 1988, p.16. The launch of Christof­fel in Roer­mond, Hol­land.
  • Talk on the Wild Side’, March 1988, p.16. New beers in the Nether­lands and the role of Bret­tanomyces in old British beer styles.
  • Learn­ing the Beer Quin­tes­sen­tials’, April 1988, p.13. On run­ning beer tast­ing events.
  • Try­ing to Find a Pearl of Truth in Oys­ter Stout’, May 1988, p.15. On the his­to­ry and mythol­o­gy of the style.
  • Peer­ing into Porter’s Dark Past’, June 1988, p.12. On the his­to­ry of porter and with com­ments on the Dur­den Park Brew­ing Cir­cle.
  • Oh, Mr Porter, What a To-Do!’, July 1988, p.17. On the revival of porter and a com­par­a­tive tast­ing host­ed at The White Horse.
  • Anchors Up and Away’, August 1988, p.13. A pro­file of Anchor Steam.
  • Foam­ing the West Fron­tier’, Sep­tem­ber 1988, p.17. An overview of the boom in brew­eries on the US West Coast and North­ern Cal­i­for­nia espe­cial­ly.
  • Drink­ing With Angels, Back Home in Pasade­na’, Octo­ber 1988, p.12. An overview of new brew­eries in Los Ange­les and the sur­round­ing areas.
  • Beer Breeze Blows in the Windy City’, Novem­ber 1988, p.11. An overview of new brew­eries in Chica­go.
  • Judy’s Pub’, Decem­ber 1988, p.11. A whim­si­cal full-page pro­file of the New Lyon’s Brew­ery, Dublin, Cal­i­for­nia.

What’s Brew­ing was also the title of a short-lived CAMRA mag­a­zine pub­lished with a view to the mass-mar­ket between 1980–1981. Arti­cles by Michael Jack­son appeared in all three issues.

  • The Hit and Myth Drink’, Issue No. 1, Sum­mer 1980, pp.21–23. A cri­tique of British-brewed lager.
  • Impe­r­i­al Adven­ture’, Issue No. 2, Win­ter 1980–81, pp.9–11. An overview of the his­to­ry and char­ac­ter of impe­r­i­al stout.
  • A Mat­ter of Taste’, Issue No. 3, Spring 1981, pp.30–32. About the brew­ing indus­try research cen­tre at Nut­field.

7 thoughts on “Michael Jackson’s Writing for CAMRA 1977–1988”

  1. I think it was the Inde­pen­dent that he had a reg­u­lar Sat­ur­day col­umn in, but that was lat­er (ear­ly 90s), iirc.

    1. Yes, and those are fair­ly well cat­a­logued on the offi­cial Beer Hunter web­site. Before 1989 or there­abouts, the bib­li­og­ra­phy runs dry.

  2. Excel­lent! I actu­al­ly don’t think more than two min­utes a month about the man so I am sure I have many poor­er habits but this is fab­u­lous. Many myths, I’m sure, would be dis­pelled from the actu­al read­ing as we’ve seen with his orig­i­nal con­struct of style – plus the “booth babes” thing.. That sec­ond arti­cle looks very inter­est­ing. How could the US fall in love with ale years before the advent of the 1980s. Can you scan it? Is it about imports?

    1. I actu­al­ly don’t think more than two min­utes a month about the man…”

      Ha – this sounds like some­one deny­ing they are still hung up on an ex!

      Fall in love’ is too strong. He says it might only be a ‘straw in the wind’ but that the pop­u­lar­i­ty of Gene­see had some spec­u­lat­ing about the pos­si­bil­i­ty of an ale revival across the US. He goes on to talk about oth­er old school US brew­eries still pro­duc­ing ales and then men­tions New Albion and Anchor.

      What’s Brew­ing was unfor­tu­nate­ly always run­ning sto­ries about how ‘[COUNTRY X] GETS THE ALE BUG!’ based on not much evi­dence and wish­ful think­ing but, in this case, Jack­son was right, wasn’t he?

  3. Inter­est­ing. Domes­tic ales. In the 1977 orig­i­nal edi­tion he is quite keen on Cana­di­an ales. And it’s not so much Jack­son as those who ref­er­ence him with­out cita­tion, quo­ta­tion or any­thing resem­bling a stab at accu­ra­cy. And then adopt what they form out of his image and attach it to their own rep­u­ta­tion, an odd sort of career advance­ment.

  4. Even though he is writ­ing for a CAMRA pub­li­ca­tion, you can track the devel­op­ment of the Amer­i­can Micro-Beer scene. Michael Jack­son was one of the great­est influ­ences on the Amer­i­can “craft” beer scene.

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