Tuesday, November 23, 2010

CT Column 6/10/2010 :One white glove

AT the end of last month along with Geoff Griggs I helped present a tasting that commemorates the life of one of the worlds most influential beer and whiskey writers. In the late 1970s Michael Jackson sparked the modern age of beer writing by writing about beer with respect to how it is made, its social context, and always with a good dose of humour. This humour often referenced his more famous American namesake; in his 1990 TV series The Beer Hunter Michael started the first episode with a piece to camera wearing one white glove.
Michael suffered from Parkinsons for 10 year up until his death in 2007. Every year since his passing Regional Wines runs a series of Michael Jackson memorial tastings during September and presents some of Michael’s favourite beers. The line up is always amazing and this year we came up with eight fantastic beers. At the end of each tasting those in attendance vote for their two favourite beers, when we do our job right it’s often very hard for people to choose.
In first place this year came Alaskan Smoked Porter. Brewed in Juno Alaska, Alaskan Smoked Porter is a remarkable beer in many ways. Juno is extremely isolated with all the raw ingredients for the brewery having to be shipped in by barge and then the packaged beer being ‘exported’ south to the mainland United States on barges. The beer is a strong rich velvety porter that is produced with Alder smoked malt giving the beer a delicious blend of smoky camp fire flavours and rich dark chocolate and caramel.
In a three-way-split for second was Orval, a hoppy slightly tart and wild Trappist beer brewed by Monks in Belgium, 3 Monts, a classic Biere de Garde from the North of France, and one of my all-time favourites the strong vintage dated Thomas Hardy’s Ale from the south of England.
During the tasting some exciting news was revealed. There is currently a feature film documentary on Michael’s life in production. The film isn’t due for release until next year but plans are already under way for a New Zealand screening that will hopefully raise money for the New Zealand Parkinson’s Society.

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