How do you create a successful business from scratch? Well, apparently all you need is enthusiasm and investors with deep pockets:

Four years ago, when [Mazen] Hajjar finally decided to manufacture his own beer, he had to realize how difficult the going would be. For one thing, he had absolutely no experience in the craft of brewing. Through the 1990s, Hajjar, who was born in Lebanon, worked as a photojournalist for British newspapers, covering the conflict in Bosnia, but he found the work unfulfilling. Beer, on the other hand—in a manner typical of both students and journalists—held an abiding interest. What Hajjar did understand about it came from his university days in London, at the student bar at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies, and from drinking Almaza, then the only beer produced in Lebanon, and for which Hajjar spares no scorn. (“It’s the lowest common denominator beer. It’s the same as a McDonald’s hamburger.”) He says, “All I knew was that I was fed up with Almaza.”

That’s right – The Atlantic has the story behind 961 beer. An absolutely amusing story of where skill and knowledge was thrown out the window and where obsession and passion reigned king. Imagine purchasing equipment for a beer production facility only to get an email from the CEO of the equipment manufacturer stating:


Why would a company send Mazen such an email? Well simply Mazen and his team didn’t know what they were doing:

…it took them three months of working 12-hour shifts and firing off enough emails to the manufacturer, filled with boneheaded questions, to raise eyebrows back in Canada. This was clearly not a professional operation.

And there you have it, 961 Beer was born. A little stubbornness and a pinch of insanity can really get you places.

Highly recommend reading the entire post.

The Story Behind The Bottle: How 961 Beer Came to Be

The Story Behind The Bottle: How 961 Beer Came to Be