Charlie Papazian, Homebrewing and American Beer Icon, Announces Exit

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Charlie Papazian, an icon in American homebrewing and beer, announces his exit. (Brewers Association)

American brewing and homebrewing icon, Charlie Papazian, will be exiting the Brewers Association, the not-for-profit membership group for brewers by brewers (and publishers of Papazian is a rock star in the world of beer and his contributions over the last 40 years are extensive.

“We are all here today because of Charlie Papazian,” says Bob Pease, president and CEO, Brewers Association. “His influence on the homebrewing and craft brewing community is immeasurable.”

We aren’t being hyperbolic when we say Charlie’s contributions to beer and homebrewing are immense. One of Papazian’s nicknames is the “Father of Homebrewing” — and for good reason. In the early 70s, he taught homebrewing classes in Boulder, Colorado. He’s the author of several homebrewing books, including “The Complete Joy of Homebrewing,” a book that’s considered the “homebrewing bible.” In 1978, the same year the federal government legalized homebrewing, he co-founded the American Homebrewers Association (AHA) along with Charlie Matzen. Together, the two published the first issue of “Zymurgy” magazine.

(READ: What Is the Independent Craft Brewer Seal?)

In fact, his wooden spoon — a tool he says is “one of the required pieces of homebrew equipment everybody needs,” — is now in the hands of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. Charlie says the spoon was used by “hundreds and hundreds of students I taught to homebrew.” The list of students he taught over the years is a “Who’s Who” in American beer, including the founder of Wynkoop Brewing, Denver’s first brewpub, and the founders of New Belgium Brewing.

In 1982, he founded the Great American Beer Festival (GABF) in Boulder, Colorado. The GABF is now the largest ticketed beer festival in North America with more than 60,000 attendees. The festival will celebrate 37 years in September 2018. 

In 1983, 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 the US. By 2005, the Association of Brewers and the Brewers’ Association of America merged to form the Brewers Association.

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The BA says Papazian will exit on his 70th birthday, January 23, 2019. During the next year, he’ll devote time to a craft brewing history archive project he’s long been compiling. The archive has more than 100,000 pictures, films, videos, documents and more which chronicle 40 years of craft beer history. The BA says the archive will be opened to researchers.

As news of Papazian’s exit spreads, follow the hashtag #CheerstoCharlie on social media. The BA is using it to curate memories from his friends and colleagues.

Jess Baker walked into a beer fest in 2010 and realized beer had come a long way from what her dad had been drinking since the 70s. She served as editor-in-chief of from spring 2016 to spring 2020, bringing you stories about the people who are the heartbeat behind U.S. craft brewing. She's a runner, a die-hard Springsteen fan, a mom who is always scouting family-friendly breweries, and always in search of a darn good porter. is fully dedicated to small and independent U.S. breweries. We are published by the Brewers Association, the not-for-profit trade group dedicated to promoting and protecting America’s small and independent craft brewers. Stories and opinions shared on do not imply endorsement by or positions taken by the Brewers Association or its members.