Thursday, January 23, 2014

Birthday in Beer: Charlie Papazian turns 65.

Charlie Papazian celebrates his 65th birthday today. It's a milestone for Mr. Papazian, and, by extension, for the entire modern 'good beer' revival movement in the United States —homebrewing and 'craft' brewing alike.

Educated as a nuclear engineer, Mr. Papazian, a homebrewer by hobby, founded the American Homebrewers Association in 1978, when homebrewing in the U.S. was technically illegal. Today, the hobby is legal in all 50 states. Papazian's efforts were a crucial part of that evolution.

In 1979, Mr. Papazian founded the Association of Brewers, now the Brewers Association (of which he is president) —the primary advocacy group for small and independent breweries in the U.S.

In 1982, he organized the first ever Great American Beer Festival —since held annually, and considered the premier annual national competition for American breweries. In 1996, he organized the bi-annual World Beer Cup.

In 1984, Mr. Papazian published his seminal how-to, The Complete Joy of Home Brewing. This book would inspire and educate successive generations of homebrewers, some of whom would later convert their avocations into professions (including the author of this blog). The book is still in print, now on its 3rd edition.

Mr. Papazian's iconic admonition has long been: "Relax; don't worry; have a homebrew." Inscribed with that, here's my dog-eared ('photo-shopped') 1991 autographed edition of his book.

The late, great beer writer Michael Jackson wrote the book's forward. This is the final paragraph:
Wherever my travels take me in the United States, and whichever commercial beers I am asked to taste, whether by a magazine, a scientific institute, or a brewer, I always seem to finish up in someone's garden at the weekend, enjoying their own home-produced vintage. My hosts almost always turn out to be members of the American Homebrewers' Association. It happened again the other day, in Washington, D.C. My hosts were a physicist and his schoolteacher wife. They had friends present, an executive in a government agency and a couple of journalists from a famous newspaper. We enjoyed that same pleasure usually experienced in cooking together, except that we were brewing. While we went about it, we sampled the recently matured product of their last brew. "Let's drink a toast," suggested our hosts. "Lets drink to Charlie Papazian." We did, and so will you.

Have a happy birthday, today, Charlie!

Follow Mr. Papazian on Facebook, on Twitter, and at his Examiner column.

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