Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Ninkasi-speed, Charlie Papazian!

Charlie Papazian meets fans


Yesterday, on his 70th birthday, Charlie Papazian —the 'godfather' of American 'craft' brewing and American homebrewing— announced that, after his more than forty-year career, he is retiring from the [U.S.] Brewers Association —the advocacy group for small and independent American breweries— that he founded in 1979 (or more properly, its predecessor, the Association of Brewers).

Educated as a nuclear engineer, a homebrewer by hobby, Mr. Papazian, has an extensive curriculum cerevisiae.
  • He founded the American Homebrewers Association in 1978, when homebrewing in the U.S. was still technically illegal. Today, the hobby is legal in all 50 states. Papazian's efforts were a crucial part of that evolution.
  • In 1982, he organized (with Daniel Bradford) 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 first, now bi-annual, World Beer Cup.
  • In 1976, he self-published his seminal how-to, The Joy of Homebrew, formally published in 1984 as The Complete Joy of Home Brewing. He is the author of several more influential books on homebrewing, beer, and mead.
The New Complete Joy of Homebrewing (1991)

In December, Mr. Papazian donated his "charismatic" wooden spoon —the 'high-tech' instrument with which he has brewed and taught homebrewing to several generations of hobbyists and professionals— to the Smithsonian's American History Museum for its American Brewing History Initiative.

Mr. Papazian's advocacy was in no small measure instrumental in shepherding the successful revival of good beer in America. His books inspired and educated successive generations of homebrewers, many of whom would later convert their avocations into 'craft' beer professions (including the author of this blog).

Ninkasi-speed, Charlie! Thank you for all you've done —and continue to do. And, now, as you have long admonished us in your books and in person:

"Relax. Don't worry. Have a homebrew."

...or two!

  • In the photo above, Mr. Papazian is pictured, center, at the 2017 Craft Brewers Conference in Washington, D.C.
  • Read the press release from the American Homebrewers Association: here.
  • This post originally appeared, in truncated form, at YFGF's Facebook page.
  • From Tom Acitelli (at All About Beer, 14 January 2016), more about The Complete Joy of Homebrewing:
    [Charlie] Papazian’s influence through writing [...]started in the mid-1970s, after he had relocated to Colorado and started teaching homebrewing courses in his spare time from a six-page syllabus he developed. In 1976, Papazian, who taught preschool and kindergarten by day, expanded that syllabus to 78 pages and self-published it with the title, 'The Joy of Homebrewing.' ¶ The American Homebrewers Association offered copies for $2.50 each, beginning in 1978, or $2 if you also bought a $4 annual membership in the association. Papazian continued to tweak the guide, increasing its scope and size so much that Daniel Bradford, then the AHA’s marketing director, saw the potential for turning it into a saleable book. He acted as Papazian’s agent, landing a small advance in early 1983 from Avon, a Manhattan-based publisher best-known for romance paperbacks and comic books. ¶ Throughout the late spring and summer of 1983, Papazian spent mornings and afternoons writing and rewriting in longhand. In the evenings, after everyone else left the AHA offices at his home on 19th Street in Boulder, Papazian would type up the writing on the association’s lone computer. ¶ The 'Complete Joy of Homebrewing' dropped in 1984, and connected almost immediately with the growing legions of homebrewers nationwide (one estimate pegged their number at 1.4 million, or the population of San Diego today). The book would go through several printings—and counting—and editions; and would become the best-selling homebrewing guide ever. ¶ It wasn’t just Papazian’s expertise, honed since that first homebrewing experience in Charlottesville in 1970, that landed with readers. It was his breezy tone, one that had first convinced Bradford the syllabus-turned-guide could work as a book. ¶ Papazian set that tone from the get-go, assuring his audience in the book’s introduction that 'making quality beer is EASY!.' Fretting otherwise would only spoil things. 'Relax. Don’t worry.' Those words became a kind of catchphrase for Papazian, one that he would soon expand: 'Relax. Don’t worry. Have a homebrew.'

  • For more from YFGF:

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