food / travel

Palestinian-Brewed, Bavarian-Inspired Beer Is A Hit In Israel

Taybeh was also the toast of a unique Oktoberfest celebration in Ramallah.

Taybeh Oktoberfest in Ramallah
Taybeh Oktoberfest in Ramallah
Daniel Rubinstein

TAYBEH — There are many economic ties between Israel and the Palestinians, but only one Palestinian product has managed to become a famous brand in Israel: Taybeh Beer.

Though still not sold in every bar in Tel Aviv, everybody knows its name and reputation. The brewers of the Palestinian beer recently celebrated the factory's 20th anniversary, which coincided with a local incarnation of the famous Oktoberfest beer festival that takes place in Germany. Though usually celebrated in the West Bank village of Taybeh, 15 kilometers northeast of Jerusalem, this year the party was moved exceptionally to the bigger stage of Ramallah, and included shows, music and dance events.

The Taybeh brewery was founded by local brothers Nadim and Daud Khoury who brought equipment and machines from Germany. The first bottles were distributed in the summer of 1995.

It is a bit odd to discover that the successful Taybeh beer company comes originally from the Palestinian territories, since the vast majority (95%) of residents in the West Bank and Gaza are Muslims and therefore do not drink alcoholic beverages. Indeed, the Khoury brothers are part of an increasingly small minority of Christians who have stayed on in the Palestinian territories and Israel over the past few years, as more and more emigrate.

Expanding beyond beer

Some 40% of Taybeh products are sold in Israel, the rest exported to Europe and Japan — with just a small part for the local market of beer drinkers in the Palestinian territories.

The Second Intifada, which erupted in 2002, disrupted production at the brewery because it was very difficult to import the ingredients with the checkpoints blocking the transportation system.

In the years since the Intifada, production has returned to normal, and the owners of the company have decided to invest in new products. The first one was olive oil, made from the many olive groves surrounding the city. Then they turned to apple juice — a non-alcoholic beverage aimed for the Muslim population in Palestine, Israel, and neighboring countries

Still, for now, the most successful product of Taybeh is a dark lager beer, 6% alcohol, made in a traditional German Bavarian style.

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