Last year around this time, the Brewers Association announced that one of the most important figureheads in America’s beer renaissance would be stepping down today. Charlie Papazian, living legend, helped found the American Homebrewers Association (AHA), the Great American Beer Fest and the Association of Brewers, which merged with the Brewers’ Association of America in 2005 to become the Brewers Association of today (where he was president for many years). Papazian announced last year that on January 23, 2019 (today), he would step down, marking his 70th birthday and 40 years building the craft brewing community and inspiring brewers and beer lovers around the world.
“We would not be where we are today without Charlie Papazian,” said the Brewers Association in a statement. “Armed with a vision, a mission and the passion to succeed, Charlie turned his love of homebrewing into a community and culture that has had profound implications for so many, both personally and professionally. His contributions are indelible and innumerable, and his legacy lives on as the Brewers Association continues to serve the community Charlie helped to create. Cheers to Charlie as he takes the next steps on his never-ending path of living and learning.”
Last week, the BA uploaded the video tribute above, which is very well done. Also very well done, the BA’s Julia Hertz wrote this great thank you letter earlier this month.
Here are some other amazing Papazian facts via last year’s press release:
- 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 38th 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 United States. 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, “Homebrew Con,” in Portland, OR on Thursday, June 28..