Charlie revisiting the spot in Charlottesville, Virginia, where he brewed his first batch of beer in 1970. Photo was taken in 1979.

Charlie Papazian is leaving the Brewers Association after 40 years of building the brewing community

 

Longer ago than I’d care to admit, I was a home brewer and college student in Bellingham. Back then, we simply called it “the bible” — The Complete Joy of Homebrewing, by Charlie Papazian. When I first dog-eared pages of that book, you could count the number of breweries in Washington on one hand. Charlie literally wrote the book on homebrewing for a generation of brewers.  “Relax. Don’t worry. Have a home brew,” his positive refrain throughout the book.

Now he’s taking his own advice. Relaxing.

Sure, I’m a fossil, but Charlie’s involvement in the world of beer predates my own. Back in the late 70s and early 80s, Charlie founded the American Homebrewers Association and the Association of Brewers. Thirty-seven years ago he created the Great American Beer Festival, which has grown to be the largest, most-prestigious beer event in North America and maybe the world. If you ever won a medal at the GABF, he’s the one who handed it to you. For many years, he served as the President of the Brewers Association, the not-for-profit organization that represents America’s small, independent brewers.

charlie_papazian-historic
Above: Charlie revisiting the spot in Charlottesville, Virginia, where he brewed his first batch of beer in 1970. Photo was taken in 1979.

Charlie Papazian is the man. All of it. Everything. The giant upon whose shoulders we all stand. A man to whom all beer lovers owe a huge debt of gratitude.

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Charlie is about to step into a new role as the retired legend. Here is the press release about Charlie’s next move.

Raise a toast to Charlie!

Brewers Association Announces Exit of Charlie Papazian

Father of homebrewing, founder and innovator leaves lasting legacy after 40 years

Boulder, CO • January 23, 2018—The Brewers Association (BA)—the not-for-profit trade group dedicated to promoting and protecting America’s small and independent craft brewers—today announced that founder and past president Charlie Papazian will exit the Brewers Association on January 23, 2019, marking his 70th birthday and 40 years building the craft brewing community and inspiring brewers and beer lovers around the world.

“We are all here today because of Charlie Papazian,” said Bob Pease, president and CEO, Brewers Association. “His influence on the homebrewing and craft brewing community is immeasurable. Who could have predicted that a simple wooden spoon, ingenuity and passion would spawn a community of more than one million homebrewers and 6,000 small and independent U.S. craft breweries.”

Charlie Papazian, founder of the American Homebrewers Association (AHA) and the Association of Brewers, set the stage for homebrewing back in the 1970s. His expertise and friendly tone assured people that making good beer was possible at home. He stressed his catchphrase of “Relax. Don’t worry. Have a homebrew” in his first book, The Complete Joy of Homebrewing and inspired millions to pick up the hobby of homebrewing.

In 1978, Papazian, along with Charlie Matzen, formed the AHA in Boulder, CO. They published the first issue of Zymurgy magazine, announcing the new organization, publicizing the federal legalization of homebrewing and calling for entries in the first AHA National Homebrew Competition. Today, the AHA is more than 46,000 members strong.

In 1982, Papazian debuted the Great American Beer Festival (GABF) in Boulder, CO. Now in its 37th year, GABF is the largest ticketed beer festival in North America with more than 60,000 attendees annually and its accompanying competition is one of the most coveted awards in the brewing industry.

The following year, the Association of Brewers was organized to include the AHA and the Institute for Brewing and Fermentation Studies to assist the emerging microbrewery movement in US. By 2005, the Association of Brewers and the Brewers’ Association of America merged to form the Brewers Association.

When asked, “Charlie, did you ever imagine that beer would become this?” His answer is always yes.

“I had a playful vision that there would be a homebrewer in every neighborhood and a brewery in every town. But what I did not imagine, couldn’t imagine, never considered, was the impact that craft brewing would have on our culture, economy and American life,” mused Papazian.

Papazian will spend his final year at the BA completing many projects, including a craft brewing history archive project. The archive will house 40 years of craft beer history in the form of more than 100,000 publications, photographs, audiotapes, films, videos, and documents—including 140 video interviews of the pioneers of American craft brewing—and will be accessible to researchers via the BA. He will also deliver the keynote address at the AHA’s 40th annual National Homebrew Conference, “Hombrew Con,” in Portland, OR on Thursday, June 28.

Brewers and homebrewers are invited to share their well wishes and Charlie Papazian stories on the AHA and BA Facebook pages.