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Cheers: How a Tight Knit Group of Fun-Loving Friends Motivates a Beer Pioneer The founder of Harpoon beer explains how it is the experiences with friends and loved ones that inspired him to open his brewery.

By Dan Kenary

This story appears in the October 2017 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Courtesy of Adam Bailey | Original photograph by Jack Markell

Back in 1987, we were doing our first bottling run. I had left banking to start a craft brewery, which at that time was unheard of. Not only did we have to make great product, we also had to get people to buy something totally unfamiliar. Everyone back then knew beer as a light-­yellow lager, so if you came up with something amber or hazy, they'd think it had gone bad.

Related: Why Leaders Lean on Friends and Family

It was a stressful time. Adding to the pressure, I was about to get married. One day, a few of the guys stopped the line and asked me to come upstairs. So I did. And when I got up there, they grabbed me and pinned me to the floor. Before I knew it, they got my clothes off and put me in a jumpsuit, complete with an Elvis wig and glasses. They hustled me out of the plant, put me in a car, drove me to Logan Airport, put a plane ticket in my hand and left. It was a ticket to Memphis.

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