The father of homebrewing, who inspired countless individuals to turn their kitchen stoves and backyard burners into miniature brewhouses, is stepping away from his official role at the Brewers Association. Charlie Papazian is scheduled to retire from the not-for-profit trade group dedicated to the promotion and protection of the country’s small and independent craft brewers on Jan. 23, 2019. That day will mark his 70th birthday and 40 years building the craft brewing community.
“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.
In 1978, Papazian, along with Charlie Matzen, formed the AHA in Boulder, Colo. 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, Colo. 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 the U.S. 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. It 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 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. •