I just heard that Michael Jackson died. It seems he died last week of Parkinson’s disease.
Appropriately enough, when I read the news online I was drinking a beer. Not just any beer either. I was drinking a Czech Budvar. I can’t remember exactly where I first learned that American Budweiser was in fact an imitation of a vastly superior Czech beer by the name of Budvar, but given that Michael Jackson was the source of so much of my early beer knowledge, it is safe to assume I read it first in one of Michael Jackson’s books.
I had gone to take a beer from the fridge before going online. I scanned what was available: Yebisu, La Trappe Dubbel, la Trappe Triple, La Trappe Wit, Little Creatures, Monteiths Winter Ale, and Budvar. For some reason I picked up the Budvar. The Budvar had been sitting neglected in the bottom of the fridge for a couple of months, overlooked in favor of newer and more faddish products. The La Trappe beers are mass produced ‘monastic’ beers (a pleasant compromise but hardly memorable); Little Creatures is excellent, but being a recent discovery it lacks the familiarity factor, and in any case is somewhat disconcertingly named; the Monteiths Winter Ale is better than most Monteiths products, but although I’ve been enjoying it recently I doubt I’ll remember it in years to come; finally, not to detract from its quality, but Yebisu is enjoyable mainly for its Japanese associations.
Something told me to go for the beer that Michael Jackson had urged me to try so many years ago – the Budvar. I opened the bottle, poured it into a slightly curved glass I knew would bring out its delicate bouquet (another tip I probably heard first from Michael Jackson), took a sip, and enjoyed the understated elegance that always accompanies Czech pilsner.
Beer in hand I then went online and saw the sad news.
Without Michael Jackson there would be fewer people thinking about what they drink. Without his influence the contemporary world of beer and whiskey would surely be less diverse, knowledgeable and enthusiastic. Drinkers the world over have a lot to thank him for.
A toast in memory of Michael Jackson is surely the least we can do.