On his 70th birthday, which he celebrates today, Charlie Papazian founder and past president of the Brewers Association (BA) is stepping down from the organization.
Papazian, who is by many referred to as a living legend, co-founded the American Homebrewers Association (AHA) in 1978 along with Charlie Matzen, debuted the Great American Beer Festival in 1982 and created one year later the Association of Brewers, which merged with the Brewers’ Association of America in 2005 to become the BA of today. His book, “The Complete Joy of Homebrewing,” has sold more than 1.3 million copies.
In a statement on Charlie Papazian’s exit, the BA issued the following statement: “We would not be where we are today without Charlie Papazian. 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.”
When he announced his “retirement” last year, Papazian said: “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.” (inside.beer, 23.1.2018)
In an interview with The Colorado Sun on his penultimate day, Papazian reflected a little bit more on the past, present and future of beer.
“I think that the spirit with which I founded the organization has survived, in that there continues to be collaboration between people who compete with each other — collaboration between brewers in the industry, which really wasn’t normal before craft came along.”
“The one thing I never anticipated was the kind of impact that the book, and this whole craft beer and craft brewing movement, has had in people’s lives.”
“Breweries and brewers — what they started back in the late 70s and early 80s has now become a movement. And it’s spilled over from the brewing world to the food world — the idea of local, sustainable, community, collaborative, customer-friendly, family friendly, farm to table. We were preaching all that kind of thing back in the ‘80s, and no one would really listen very much.”
“I think the beer world has changed dramatically in that there is an ever-growing number of beer drinkers who really appreciate knowing a little bit about what they are enjoying. It’s enabled brewers to go where brewers haven’t ventured for a century or two.”
“I really appreciate all the times that people said, “Thank you, Charlie, for changing my life.” It’s not like that’s what I live for, but it just so happens that I’ve changed a lot of people’s lives. And in a heartfelt way I can say, “You’re welcome.” I can’t ask much more from life than that.”
Please also watch the following video on Charlie Papazian.