Martin Wooster, researcher, scholar, writer, and a long-time contributor to All About Beer was killed last month reportedly by a hit-and run driver. He was 64.
A true Renaissance man, his interests ranged from Science Fiction to philanthropy, and beer.
When writing for All About Beer, Wooster mainly focused on book reviews. History was a passion and he had been attending the Ales Through the Ages symposium in Williamsburg, Virginia when he was struck near his hotel.
The Williamsburg Police Department did not respond to a request for information. It is unclear if the department has made any arrests or the current state of the investigation.
It is in the mail
In several other obituaries and tributes posted online a common thread emerged. Wooster a veracious reader would take to sending articles – both digital and printed – to authors and writers he befriended over the years in multiple fields.
I was proud to be included in those mailings. Over the last several years he reached out when he noticed that an article of mine was used to illustrate a page in the recently released The Dogfish Head Book: 26 Years of Off-Centered Adventures and that The Week had been re-running reviews and insights I had first published in Wine Enthusiast. In both cases he spotted these before I did.
In an exchange I’ve long remembered Wooster reached out on Christmas Eve 2014 sharing thoughts on a piece I wrote for the Washington Post about Russian dressing, and its differences from the more popular Thousand Island dressing.
In the note he shared this tidbit:
“You should know my single favorite food item is the Montgomery Burger at Woodside Deli in Silver Spring [Maryland], which is a burger with fried onions and Thousand Island dressing on rye bread.”
That deli, according to online reports, closed in 2022.
He reached out just after New Year in 2015 to note the same piece had run in the Philadelphia Inquirer that weekend.
In his tribute in the National Review John J. Miller wote that Wooster would send him clippings and links from other people named John Miller.
“Early on, he sent clips by regular mail, cut from the pages of his prodigious reading,” Miller wrote. “At some point, the emails outnumbered the stamped envelopes. Along the way, I learned about hordes of people with whom I share a name. They included loads of criminals and at least one person who attended a Star Trek convention as a Klingon.”
Wooster was thoughtful and he was inquisitive.
Stan Hieronymus, who presented at Ales Through the Ages spent time with Wooster during the weekend but had left Virginia before the incident.
“As was typical of Martin, he had plenty of questions about hops when we headed to lunch after the Saturday am session,” says Hieronymus. “Typical because he asked the questions in a way I painlessly realized changes I could have made in my presentation that would have made what I was saying clearer.”
In addition to his work for All About Beer and other beer publications Wooster was the author of three books Angry Classrooms, Vacant Minds (Pacific Research Institute, 1994), The Great Philanthropists and the Problem of ‘Donor Intent’ (Capital Research Center, 1994; revised 1998, 2007, and 2017), and Great Philanthropic Mistakes (Hudson Institute, 2006; revised 2010).
Additionally, his articles and reviews appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Washington Times, American Spectator, Chronicle of Philanthropy, Commentary, Elle, Air and Space, Esquire, Philanthropy, Policy Review, Reader’s Digest, Reason, and the Washingtonian.
“I aspired to his standards when writing the occasional book review,” says Lew Bryson.
An Interest in Beer
Any writer will tell you that praise and compliments are almost as good as being fairly paid for work.
In late 2015, during my first stint as editor of this publication, Wooster reached out via email:
“I think ALL ABOUT BEER is showing steady improvement. There’s a lot more depth to the articles than in the past and a lot less filler. And I’m not just saying this because you publish me.
THANK YOU for letting me know about STRANGE TALES OF ALE. I love Martyn Cornell’s work and did NOT know about this book.
I am in the happy condition of having TOO MANY BOOKS to review. I like being in this condition!”
Praise like that from Wooster was a gift.
A resident of Maryland he was active in the beer community in the greater Washington, D.C. area.
“I first met him at a Brickskeller tasting in the early 90s and last saw him a few years back at the Silver Spring farmers market,” says Volker Stewart founding partner at The Brewer’s Art in Baltimore. “Our conversations were always fairly brief but covered a wide variety of topics in that brief time. I will miss him.”
Indeed. He will be missed by all who knew him, including, I bet, his local post office.
Articles by Martin Wooster
A sampling of book reviews by Martin Wooster from the All About Beer archives: