This week does not feature a review — it is a tribute to the one of the greatest proponents of homebrewing and microbrewing in the United States.
Charlie Papazian recently announced that he will retire from the Brewers Association on his 70th birthday in January 2019.
While this may simply seem like another ho-hum announcement of someone leaving a corporation or board, Papazian has been and still is something very special to the world of beer.
When I started homebrewing in the late 1980s, Papazian’s Joy of Homebrewing book (now called The Complete Joy of Homebrewing) was included in most start-up homebrewing kits around the country. His book was a bible for nearly all homebrewers at the time, many of whom now operate their own microbreweries.
One of the hallmarks of his book was the quote, “Relax. Don’t worry. Have a homebrew.”
The book has sold nearly a million copies. That’s a lot of homebrewers.
As if that wasn’t enough, Papazian helped start the Great American Beer Festival, the World Beer Cup, Zymurgy homebrewing magazine, the American Homebrewers Association, the Institute for Brewing Studies and Association of Brewers, which eventually merged with the Brewers Association of America to end up as today’s Brewers Association.
I liken Papazian’s influence in the U.S. to that of Michael Jackson world wide. Jackson was a British-based beer writer who died in 2007. He visited the great breweries of the world, wrote astutely about the finest beers in books and newspapers, and was a great admirer of the burgeoning U.S. microbrewery movement that started in the 1980s.
I have already saluted Papazian several times the last week while enjoying some great microbrews. I suggest you do the same. People such as Papazian only crop up once a generation in their professions and the world is a better place for it.
I also have a feeling Papazian will not totally retire — it would not surprise me if he still has a few innovations up his sleeve.
Many beers are available only regionally. Check the brewer's website, which often contains information on product availability by mail. Contact Todd Haefer at firstname.lastname@example.org. To read previous Beer Man columns, click here.