I started homebrewing in 1994 or so. Back then, there were few sources of materials, fewer choices of brewing ingredients, and even fewer choices for equipment. But, at least there was a wealth of knowledge, if not from as many sources.
I, like many, bought Charlie Papazian's book The New Complete Joy of Hombrewing and read it cover to cover multiple times before I could scrape up the money to buy equipment. For the first few years, I owed everything I knew about brewing to Charlie and half of what I knew about beer. Eventually, I sought other sources of information, and Al Gore invented the internet, and I was off to the races. Still, I always used Charlie's book for small reference items. Since I read it so thoroughly, I remember most of the information in it, just not what page it is located.
I returned recently to my dog eared copy of the book, to actually read it....and it was difficult. It was too basic, and outdated for me to enjoy it. I have been meaning to thumb through the latest edition to see how it has grown with our hobby.
Still, I have a warm place in my heart for this book, and doubt I will ever remove it from my library. I have never met Charlie Papazian, but I'd like to. He lives about 30 miles away from me in the city of Boulder, and I have heard many stories on how friendly and approachable he is. He is a hero of mine. He has taken his love of beer and his love of people and made an entire career or two out of it. He made brewing good beer achievable, and reminded us that even our mistakes weren't cause for concern, but opportunities for growth. He wrote the bible, he reminded us to "Not Worry, Have a Homebrew", and created a place for us to learn and share information in the American Homebrewers Association. He created the Great American Beer Festival, and has traveled the world in search for the best beers, and the brewers who make them.
For this reason, I call Charlie Papazian, the Brewing Jesus. I imagine him, the consummate bearded hippie wiser than his years wandering the globe to spread his message. I imagine people with WWCD? (What Would Charlie Do?) on the front of their tee shirts, and of course, the answer to that question on the back.
For all of this, I am eternally grateful of his efforts. Even though his book no longer speaks to me, directly, his spirit lives in my heart.