The Passing of Michael Jackson…

The beer world continues to contemplate the news that famed beer writer, Michael Jackson, passed away at his home in London on August 30. A number of thoughtful observances have been written in the last few days, with many recounting their encounters with the Beer Hunter. For beer writers and brewers alike, you can always remember the first time you met Michael. I met him several times over the last few years, almost each time in a different city (London, New York, and Denver, a few times). The first time I met Michael was at the launch of his Rare Beer Club during the Great American Beer Festival many years ago and he was kind enough to sign a copy of one of his malt whisky books for a friend. He was charming during the event, which included several of his signature digressions into far-flung topics.

After publishing The Good Beer Guide To New England, I happily complied with a request from another beer writer that I send a copy of the book to Michael so that he could stay current on the local New England beer scene.

While writing this, I received yet another memorial, this time from importer, Distinguished Brands International. The release cites a remarkable fact: Michael Jackson sold more than two million books during his lifetime. That is an amazing achievement for the author and for beer.

For those who have not yet seen it, I highly recommend taking a look at the tasteful video interview with Michael Jackson recently filmed by the Shelton Brothers.

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GBGTNE: Changes at The Tap Brewpub in Haverhill, MA

I had the chance to speak about The Good Beer Guide To New England and the local beer scene at a recent meeting of the North Shore Brewers at The Tap Brewpub in Haverhill, Massachusetts. It was an enjoyable event and notable for two bits of information. Brewer Steve Bernard is leaving The Tap (where he recently brewed an excellent Berliner Weisse) to run a bottling line at a well-known craft brewery in the Greater Chicagoland area. The big news is his replacement: Mike Labbe. Labbe was the long-time brewer and one time owner of the Concord Brewery of Concord and other Massachusetts locations. More recently, Labbe helped open the Pennichuck Brewing Company in Milford, NH. The move is a bit surprising as Pennichuck is still in its infancy, and to my knowledge, Labbe has never worked as a pub brewer. The Tap has been the home to three very talented brewers (Todd Mott, Dann Paquette, and Bernard) in quick succession. I look forward to seeing what happens under Labbe’s stewardship, whether he carries on The Tap’s tradition of pushing the brewing envelope or chooses to go more traditional as has been his history.

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