Retire. Don’t Worry. Have a Homebrew.
By: Karen Vitale
Words can’t express how the news of Charlie Papazian stepping down after 40 years as head of the American Homebrewers Association hit us here at World Headquarters. Well, maybe some words. To quote Luke Skywalker, “Nooooo! That's not true! That's impossible!”
Where would any of us be without Charlie?
I started brewing as a ‘90s-era recent college grad with a newfound love of good beer and a screaming case of perfectionism. And I can assure you I would have quit after my first, flawed batch of homebrew, if not for Charlie.
After years of foamy frat-house swill, homebrew sounded like a great idea. But the practice of it seemed way out of my league. Or so I thought, as I wandered the crowded, confusing shelves of my first local homebrew shop. Don’t get me wrong. The shop owner was amazing, and eager to help. (I still have his card. It bears a fax number and a members.aol web address.) But as a young, female, wanna-be brewer, I was easily intimidated.
That all went away the minute I opened my second-hand copy of “The New Complete Joy of Homebrewing” by some guy named Charlie Papazian.
To this day, these words from Charlie’s intro stick with me whenever I’m up against some brewing obstacle, even/especially the ones that originate in my own head: “Worrying still can spoil your beer more than anything else.” That and the now-famous mantra, “Relax. Don’t Worry. Have a homebrew.” didn’t just make brewing more approachable, but life in general. The very ‘70s photos of a couple double-fisting beers and brewing gear didn’t hurt either.
I’m not saying homebrewing is the solution to all the world’s ills (though, I’m not gonna rule it out) but I haven’t found an instance yet where “Tense up & Fret” made a bad situation any better.
So many of us here at HQ consider Charlie Papazian to be our own personal teacher, mentor, Jedi Master and homebrew hero. Here are a few favorites from the crew.
Not sure any of us could have imagined a world where we’d be working in an industry that probably wouldn’t exist, if not for Charlie. I know I certainly couldn’t. So thank you, Charlie, for inspiring us to keep at this crazy hobby no matter what, and never stop learning, brewing, or sharing our passion for homebrewing every chance we get.
Hopefully, after all those decades of practice, you’ve got that Relax thing down pat. Glad to hear you’ll have some time to enjoy it. We can’t wait to see what you’ll brew up next.