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Charlie Papazian at Bitter & Esters

Douglas Amport Blog

Charlie Papazian taught me how to homebrew. Good chance he taught you too. When I first started homebrewing there was no other reference book but the Complete Joy of Homebrewing. It was just me and Charlie in the kitchen making beer. Just hearing his name makes me thirsty! The title of the book alone gives you an insight into Charlie's attitude. Joy. Homebrewing is a Joyful experience, you should relax and not worry, and you should definitely have a homebrew. Here's a quick video explaining the origins of his famous phrase. Charlie visited Bitter & Esters for one of our monthly bottle swaps to sign copies of the fourth edition of the Complete Joy of Homebrewing and the second edition of The Homebrewers Companion. He visited 508 Gastrobrewery the night before. I was lucky to have lunch and dinner with Charlie and to spend a little time with him at the shop before the swap. Just talking and drinking homebrew. A dream come true. I also did a short interview asking Charlie about his famous phrase and about National Pie day (which he started! It occurs every year on his birthday, January 23rd). We all know Charlie's famous line "relax, don't worry. have a homebrew" Spending time with Charlie taught me that wasn't just a phrase he says, he lives it. Charlie loves what he does, loves homebrewing and doesn't stress. It all works out in the end. As the people at the swap can tell you, he puts you right at ease. And yes, he still homebrews! We had dinner right before the bottle swap. I left early to check on how things were going and the shop was packed! Everyone was sharing and tasting beers and were in a very festive mood. Charlie arrived at 7 and everyone burst into applause. The love in the air was palpable and Charlie felt it, he was grinning from ear to ear. At one point I counted 70 people in the shop! All there for Charlie. After a brief talk and q&a Charlie got down to signing books. We had set up an area for him to sign but instead he just walked around the crowd, signing, talking and trying everyone's beers. We were all having a blast and Charlie was one of us. Around 8 we picked four beers for Charlie to try and declare who would win a Brauler and one of Charlie's books. We shouted out nominations and then pointed to the nominees we felt deserved the chance (very scientific I know). The four nominees were Robert Sherril, Brian DeAngelo, Will Reder and Sheri Jewhurst. I was right next to Charlie as he judged. At one point he turned to me and said,"I don't know who to pick! They are all so good!" He deliberated for some time and announced Robert as the winner. Congratulations Robert! Charlie told me all of the beers he tried at the swap were very good. He was impressed and I was happy he got to see a slice of NYC homebrewing. By 8:30 Charlie's publicist Maria told me they had to go soon, Charlie had a 6am flight! I could tell he would have stayed all night. We were all having such a good time. What an amazing experience, something I will never forget. Thanks to Aisha, Maria, all of the B&E staff and all of our wonderful friends and customers. Our community is the best. And of course, Thank you Charlie. John


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