Michael Jackson, who passed away in 2007, was one of the world’s foremost beer writers and remains an influence on beer writing to this day. Some three million copies of his books have been published in 18 languages. He also brought beer to the television with his seminal series The Beer Hunter. I’m pleased to report that he is being commemorated with the creation of the Michael Jackson Foundation for Brewing and Distilling (MJF). Distilling is rightly included because Michael was also very knowledgeable about whisky.
The MJF will be awarding scholarships to cover fees, tuition costs and materials for places on accredited brewing and distilling courses and will be funded by donations from within the industry. The project was announced on 6 July by Garrett Oliver, the Brewmaster at the Brooklyn Brewery in New York City. Posting on Twitter, Mr Oliver said, “Today I am pleased to announce the formation of the Michael Jackson Foundation for Brewing and Distilling (MJF). The MJF will fund scholarship awards to predominantly people of colour within the brewing and distilling industries or who wish to join those industries. These scholarships present an opportunity for members and supporters of our industries to directly fund a more equitable and dynamic future for brewing and distilling.”
The scholarships will be available to both new starters and for continuing education for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Colour) students who will be matched with a BIPOC mentor and/or peer within the industry.
The scholarship for brewing will be named the Sir Geoff Palmer Scholarship Award for Brewing. Professor Palmer, born in Jamaica and the first black professor in Scotland, is a Professor Emeritus of Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh. He holds the American Society of Brewing Chemists’ Award of Distinction, which has been described as the ‘Nobel Prize of Brewing’.
The distilling scholarship is to be named after Nathan Green, (1820 to circa 1890), who was born enslaved but went on to become the original distiller for Jack Daniel Tennessee Whiskey.
Mr Oliver continued, “The recipients of the MJF scholarships will be predominantly people of colour. This is an affirmative action meant to take our allied industries in a more positive and equitable direction for the future. If this goal does not interest you, you are free to remain disinterested. This work remains necessary. I hope my fellow brewers, our friends in the distilling industry, education leaders, and beer and spirit enthusiasts will join in this important effort.”
The MJF scholarships replace those given in Michael’s name by the American Institute of Wine and Food.
From the ProBrewer Beverage Industry Weekly Summary, courtesy of Martin Butler