Godspeed, Charlie Papazian
The Brewers Association announced this morning that Charlie Papazian will be stepping down from the Brewers Association on Wednesday, his 70th birthday. That doesn’t give us much time to process the news, but to get things started, here’s a video the organization put together to celebrate his remarkable four decades of homebrewing advocacy.
It would be hard to overstate just how influential Papazian has been. As the highest-profile leader of the homebrewing movement, he’s directly or indirectly responsible for encouraging thousands of future professional brewers to get started making beer. His nurturing, encouraging approach to education made the hobby seem approachable and possible to millions of Americans. Few people have a catchphrase, and fewer still one that has resonated through the decades, but “Relax, don’t worry, have a homebrew” became not just reassurance to beginners, but a mission statement.
Charlie’s promotion of good beer extended beyond homebrewing. He founded the precursor organization that became the Brewers Association, the American Homebrew Association, and the Great American Beer Festival. His home in Colorado became the HQ for all his various enterprises, and helped elevate Colorado’s homegrown beer scene. But his first love and his most important legacy is homebrewing. In 1984, he published The Complete Joy of Homebrewing (where his catchphrase debuted), and it has been in constant print since. Hundreds of homebrew books followed, but none left the lasting impact of Joy . Safe to say it has been the most influential beer book ever written in America.
So relax and raise a glass of homebrew tonight to Charlie. There’s a little bit of his life’s work in every bottle.
COVER PHOTO: BREWERS ASSOCIATION