Key Beer People

Key beer people main

Introducing a hop-fuelled rogues gallery. Some of the greatest names in the industry.

We raise our glass to beer’s true pioneers.

One of the key pioneers in the story of craft beer in the USA, and thus arguably the entire worldwide scene. In 1937 Fritz Maytag was born into the famous appliance manufacturing family, but he was destined to start something new altogether. While dining at the Old Spaghetti Factory in San Francisco, Fritz stumbled upon the rumour that the Anchor Brewing company, who produced the Anchor Steam that he was so fond of, were on the verge of disaster. Being one of only a tiny handful of small breweries in the USA at the time, their loss would have potentially signalled the end of small scale brewing. Borrowing significantly against his inheritance he bought a controlling share in the company, and invested heavily in improving quality and growing capacity. Maytag famously used his knowledge and position as a pioneer to assist other nearby brewers to develop, in order to help take some of the demand off Anchor Brewing and avoid them having to grow too large.

Without the incredible work of Michael Jackson it’s unlikely that we’d have such a well educated beer drinking population in the UK. In the Oxford Companion to Beer, Garrett Oliver refers to Jackson as ‘arguably the single most influential voice in food and drink of the 20th century’. Born in Wetherby, Yorkshire, Michael Jackson trained as a journalist, and in 1976 released his first book ‘The English Pub’, and swiftly followed this up the year after with ‘The World Guide to Beer’. These first works brought a literary strand to the beer community that had previously been reserved for food and fine wine. Eventually Jackson was commissioned to produce ‘The Beer Hunter’ a six part series for Channel 4, that both catapulted him to fame and gave him the nickname that he carried for the rest of his life. One particular focus of Jackson’s career was championing the exceptional traditional beers of Belgium, for which he was recognised in 1998 being the first non-brewer to receive the Knighthood of the Brewer’s Mash-staff (which our very own Ian Clay and Nigel Stephenson also have the honour of). Michael travelled and drank widely, contributing to the literary canon of beer, inspiring and educating thousands as he went. Unfortunately Michael Jackson passed away in 2007, but his legacy continues to this day.

Phil Markowski has been brewing professionally since 1989. Originally an electrical engineer, Phil started out as a homebrewer, eventually winning a number of competitions for his creations, leading him to pursue a career in the industry. At the tiny New England Brewing Co. Phil found success early on winning his first GABF medal. In 1996 he moved to the Southampton Publick House, where he ran their brewery for almost 16 years, in which time he received the Institute for Brewing Studies Russell Scherer Award for Innovation in Craft Brewing, becoming one of only 18 brewers to have won the award. Phil’s seminal work ‘Farmhouse Ales’ was published in 2004, and is regarded worldwide as the authoritative text on farmhouse brewing. Eventually Phil partnered up with Brad Hittle and Clem Pellani to open up Two Roads Brewing in Connecticut where he continues to innovate and produce exceptional beers.

A true hero of Belgium’s lambic scene, Frank Boon has been a central figure in the protection and promotion of lambic beers since 1975. Numbers of lambic breweries and blenderies began to dip significantly in the mid 20th century as their domestic market began to turn towards industrially brewed lagers, and at one point only twelve remained. On hearing that the blender René De Vits was ready to retire and cease production, Frank Boon put together an action plan, and managed to borrow enough money to buy the business. Boon was one of the three original members of HORAL, the consortium that campaigns for the protection of standards in lambic production. When Oud Beersel were set to disappear in 2002 Frank bought the remaining stock and continued to distribute it under the Oud Beersel name. He has also been a benefactor to many other producers, providing them support with equipment, and advice. Additionally, 60% of all wort bought by the community of lambic blenders is sold by Boon.

Discover more in our knowledge section

Learn More