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Charlie Papazian: The "Johnny Appleseed" of Craft Beer

The Metropolitan State University of Denver honored the founder of the Brewers Association by naming its Brewing Education Lab after him.

Charlie Papazian: The "Johnny Appleseed" of Craft Beer

You’d be hard-pressed to find someone as important to craft beer and brewing as Charlie Papazian. The founder of the Brewers Association and the American Homebrewers Association stepped down from running the Great American Beer Festival a few years ago, and in 2019, Papazian exited the Brewers Association after 40 years in the brewing industry – just after his 70th birthday.

Papazian’s mantra is “Relax. Don’t worry. Have a homebrew.” This famed phrase was first coined in his book, The Complete Joy of Homebrewing, which boasts sales above 1.3 million copies – though the amount of readers is likely far higher thanks to the book being passed around from homebrewer to homebrewer for decades.

Though Papazian is not so much in the public eye anymore when it comes to beer and brewing, that doesn’t mean that the legendary craft beer figure isn’t getting his due from various establishments.

Most recently, the Metropolitan State University of Denver announced it has begun construction of the Charlie Papazian Brewing Education Lab, which will honor the efforts of Papazian – who is affectionately referred to as the “Johnny Appleseed” of homebrewing and craft beer.

“I’ve been a teacher and educator my entire adult life, from teaching preschool through 4th grade and showing adults how to homebrew to launching the American Homebrewers Association and the Brewers Association,” said Papazian in a release from MSU Denver. “The original mission of those two organizations was educational, to make beer knowledge accessible to all. So the lab continues the flow of my life’s work, and it’s very fitting and exciting for me.”

It's no coincidence that Denver (and Colorado at large) has become one of the most – if not the most – important place for beer in the U.S. Papazian’s influence is felt far and wide from the huge number of breweries in the state, to it being the home of the GABF to the bevy of highly touted beer releases that pour forth from the state on a daily basis – with more breweries opening up all the time.

None of this would have been possible without Papazian, and MSU Denver wanted to commemorate that with its innovative Brewery Operations Program, which was founded in 2015 and will get a huge boost from the Papazian Brewing Education Lab.

“Now students will learn to brew on a true commercial-scale brewery, so they will be much better prepared for a brewery job,” said Bernardo Alatorre, lecturer and interim director of the Brewery Operations Program, in a release. “The [lab] will add significant value to our students’ degrees and it will make the program much more attractive to prospective students.”

In the lab, students will learn about all that the industry of brewing entails – from sourcing ingredients, using recipes, yeast management, fermentation control, sanitation procedures and much more.

Though Papazian might not be the face of craft beer and homebrewing anymore, his selflessness in sharing his abilities and knowledge about brewing will forever reverberate in the world of craft beer.

Without him, craft beer as we know it would likely not exist.

charlie papazian with beer glass

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