A Cultural Kaleidoscope

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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Celebrating Hip Hops

R.I.P. Michael Jackson. No, not that Michael Jackson. The infamous King of Pop is alive and well. Instead, the lesser known of the two Jackos and king of hops, Michael Jackson (a.k.a. The Beer Hunter) has passed away.

For the past 23 years, Jackson has been a contributing writer for All About Beer, a magazine dedicated to "Celebrating the World of Beer Culture" that claims to be "the definitive source for beer information."

The magazine has been circulating for over a quarter of a century and has a well-defined niche market. Under the direction of husband and wife team Daniel Bradford (publisher) and Julie Bradford (editor), it has gained successful readership through beer importers, liquor stores, breweries, home brewers, beer enthusiasts, and "just drinkers."

The large font in the nameplate reading "Beer" and its golden pilsner coloring lured me to the cover of the November 2007 issue immediately. At first glance, I thought this magazine would have no worthwhile material. I mean, what else could there possibly be to know about beer that matters besides that it is delicious? Apparently, a lot.

With tantalizing and informative articles such as "Beer in the New South," the main cover story of the November issue (along with Jackson's passing), and the helpful "Buyer's Guide for Beer Lovers," the magazine effectively provides entertaining news in a clever writing style without losing its focus or straying away from the subject of beer.

It also includes beer reviews, buzzworthy news in the beer industry, travel information, and book reviews as well as three regular columns with each issue (one of which was called “Jackson's Journal”). Witty tidbits about keg theft or a beer released to celebrate the premiere of a play about Margaret Thatcher called "Maggie's End" (appropriately a bitter ale) adds humor and punch to the magazine.

"Pull Up A Stool!" is a section in which the writer profiles an interesting person in the industry and has a drink with him. The notes from the publisher and editor also include photographs of them raising pints of beer. Readers are left to wonder, "Do these people ever stop drinking?"

At $4.99 a pop, an issue nearly costs the same as a cold draft micro-brew. A one-year subscription includes six issues and comes with a free "The American Brew" DVD.

The layout and design are lacking (even though recently updated) and look homemade, but this is expected of a small, independently owned magazine out of Durham, NC. Design and production are outsourced to another company.

It will be interesting to see if the magazine loses readership after the passing of Jackson, as some consider him the ultimate word on beer. The staff at All About Beer says Jackson taught them everything they know, so perhaps they will be able to carry the longneck and continue his legacy by still providing the latest information on beer culture.

The Beer Hunter often wore only one glove as a nod to the celebrity he shares a name with. To quote the other MJ: "Don't stop 'til you get enough" … beer, that is.


Blogger Lauren said...

i had no idea he passed away! they offer some of his asian beer suggestions at my fav restaurant NIRLEP! how will i know about good sri lankan beers now? :(

February 27, 2008 at 1:34 PM  

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