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Me With The Beer Hunter – Michael Jackson – and my autographed copy of his book

As I like to say, at this point in my Beer Appreciation career, I could just put on my white shoes and white belt and move to Florida and complain full time. But – I have little interest in complaining about how the craft beer world has gone to “hell in a hand basket” – but I do like reflect on how old practices and habits should be remembered before they are gone for good.

As someone that has followed craft beer since the 1990’s I have seen many of the original “Rock Stars of Brewing” come and go. Been fortunate to meet some in person (Ken Grossman of Sierra Nevada, Charlie Papazian of the BA, Sam Calagione of Dogfish, Michael Jackson – that venerable beer hunter, Garret Oliver of Brooklyn and Brewers Table, Jim Koch of Sam Adams, Carol Stoudt, Tom Kehoe, etc). I have also heard other luminaries speak at beer events like Fritz Maytag of Anchor, Greg Koch  of Stone, Kim Jordan of New Belgium, etc. Got to know a few pretty well, which was nice and helped me appreciate the people that made beer appreciation possible.

Vinnie Cilurzo of Russian River makes a point with Fritz Maytag in 2011

One of the things I enjoy most is their stories – how they came to brew, the passion and struggle – and the crazy fun they had. As a part-time writer I was and am drawn to the books that they have written about their beer, breweries, and brewers. We all know that (to quote Ray Stantz of Ghost Busters) “print is dead” – and that’s not my rant here. But along with the disappearance of books went one of my favorite beer memorabilia – the autographed beer book!

Steve Hindy of Brooklyn Brewing Sends His Best

It started for me in 1992 when I attended Michael Jackson’s (you know which one I mean) Philly “Book and Cook” beer tasting in the Penn Museum. He was my inspiration and I got to meet him in the rotunda of the museum in-between the three beer tasting session. He signed my “Pocket Guide to Beers” which was my first real beer book. After that I had him sign it each year – except for 2001 when I couldn’t make it as I had the flu. (Fortunately a friend bought a copy if his book “Ultimate Beer” that day and had him sign that for me.)

Since then I have gotten signed copies of a number of beer books – a couple were just autographed but most were personalized. You can’t sign a Kindle, or autograph a phone, so as an unintended byproduct of the death of books as we know it, is the extinction of the personally signed book. I think it’s a shame, but then again, I am the one with over 100 beer books to deal with when I move, or move on.

So, for the record –  here are a few of my favorites to share:

The aforementioned Michael Jackson books:


From this year’s Craft Brewers Conference: Dick Cantwell’s book on IPA’s:

Don Russel (Joe Six Pack):

Sam from Dogfish from 2005:

Lew Bryson and his Pa Brewers Book:

Randy Mosher


For me it’s personal – and makes the world of craft brewing feel more personal. And maybe that’s also a passing thing, but to each their own, and these books and memories are mine that I am happy to own.