Today is the birthday of Michael Jackson, lovingly known as the Beer Hunter by brewers and beer enthusiasts. I’ll understand if you’ve started humming Billy Jean. I didn’t know about this particular Michael Jackson until a couple of months ago, when his name kept coming up as I read more and more about beer. I’m rather new at this, but I can’t think of any other person who has done so much to bring forth knowledge, appreciation and excitement about the craft and enjoyment of beer. I can’t seem to put into words how much his writing, his TV series and video reviews have influenced my admiration and excitement for beer. But perhaps if you watch this video, you might get an idea.
I knew from the beginning of the month that I would want to drink in honor of Michael Jackson on the 27th day, and I couldn’t have had a better companion for this than Rachel. Not knowing much about beer, she took it upon herself to do some research and put some thought into what she might enjoy drinking tonight. She actually wrote a list and brought it along. I shouldn’t have been surprised; I would expect nothing less from one of my sharpest friends and coworkers. To make matters better, all of Rachel’s notes and research led to the conclusion that the kind of beer she would probably most enjoy would be a Belgian or Belgian style ale. Knowing that, we decided we would share a big bottle, one I had been thinking about for a while.
We chose the Ommegang Abbey Ale, and I just know Mr. Jackson would have approved of our selection. Ommegang is an American brewery owned by Moortgat, the Belgian brewery that makes my two favorite beers so far: Duvel and Maredsous. Ommegang specializes in Belgian style ales and their Abbey Ale is a formidable specimen of its category. It was great from the start, but as Rachel remarked, it only got better as it sat still and warmed up to room temperature while we carried on with our conversation. Often described as a burgundy of beers, it delivered some sweet fruits and caramel notes with a very satisfying mouth feel and smooth finish. The high ABV was barely noticeable and the different notes seemed to blend rather roundly rather than compete for attention. It was a good thing we shared this big bottle as it provided enough nourishment for the wonderful conversations we had. Happy birthday and rest in peace, Mr. Jackson.