Tonight in Leeds, three episodes of The Beer Hunter, the TV series presented by the late beer writer and journalist Michael Jackson, are being shown as part of a Beer Week in the city.
I was 18 when Channel 4 broadcast The Beer Hunter in 1989. I'd never heard of Bamberg, let alone the Rauchbier brewed there with smoked malt, nor what Jackson called in one of the episodes being shown tonight "The Burgundies of Belgium", the strong ales produced by its Trappist monasteries. Later, I picked up a couple of his books - The World Guide to Beer and Great Beer Guide - and later still made it myself to Franconia and to Brussels, drinking the beers he had drunk in the same pubs and bars he had spoken and written about. I'm sure I'm not the only beer drinker to have followed his footsteps to the brewing towns of Germany and Belgium whose specialities he was the one of the first to explore.
Until a few years ago, all the episodes of The Beer Hunter were available on YouTube, but Channel 4, who hold the rights, has since blocked them on copyright grounds (in Britain at least: they might still be viewable elsewhere in the world). I've not got a problem with them doing that, but why don't they make them commercially available on DVD so that beer lovers can once again enjoy them?