Last night I heard the sad news of Simon’s passing. It is desperately sad. I can’t pretend to have known him well and we only met twice, but they were memorable times, which I think is the measure of the man. First time I was standing with Nick Otley in the Rake on the night when we launched Saison Obscura a couple of years ago and I said to him, ‘I thought that Simon Johnson bloke was coming’, the guy to my left, who had been standing there and drinking the beer with us, said, ‘I’m here’. I don’t know why but that always made me smile whenever I thought of it.
The last time I met him was in February when I was in Derby en route to Burton and he suggested a drink. We went to the Exeter Arms, which I wrote up for the Telegraph putting Simon in it, and we spent an enjoyable afternoon there and then finished off at the Alexandra before I lurched off to get my train. In between there were emails and tweets and his thoroughly enjoyable blog; it was only the other day when I was smiling at it as I read the account of his bonkers Derby Bimble last Saturday.
He was generous with his information, telling me about pubs in the East Midlands, including the General Havelock, and I tried to get him to join the British Guild of Beer Writers, but he never did. He will be missed by those of us who communicate about beer in whatever form but first and foremost my thoughts go out to his family.