961 Beer founder Mazen Hajjar.
When it comes to foreign beer being imported to the U.S., there’s plenty of buzz about brewers from Denmark, Italy and even Spain and France, a nation better known for its love of grapes than grains. But the craft beer revolution is not confined to continental Europe. Lately, craft breweries have begun to crop up in Beijing, India and, perhaps most surprising of all, Beirut, Lebanon.
This month marks the stateside arrival of 961 Beer, Beirut’s first craft brewery. The firm was founded in 2006 by Mazen Hajjar, a former investment banker who ran two airlines before catching the brewing bug. “I bought every book on beer on Amazon and taught myself to brew,” says Hajjar, who took his greatest inspiration from Beer School by Brooklyn Brewery founders Steve Hindy and Tom Potter.
Hajjar began homebrewing, taking his inspiration from Britain’s balanced brewing traditions. He tinkered with porters and English-inspired pale ales, conducting endless “research sessions” with friends and colleagues.
Then one day came a knock at the door. Continue reading