Travelling in countries of conflict or dispute always surprises, as the disparity between the media driven narrative of the region and day to day reality can be vast. Israel and the Palestinian territories are no exception as daily life and business carry on despite the ongoing tensions and political impasse. Perhaps the most surprising thing to encounter in the region is a brewery in the West Bank town of Taybeh, 14km northeast of Ramallah.
Taybeh Brewing Company was formed in 1995 by master brewer Nadim Khoury. It remains a small, family run business – his daughter Madees is the first female Brewster in Palestine and sister-in-law Maria helps to run the business and provides tours of the brewery – but one which produces beer of outstanding quality. The beer is produced using only natural products (imported hops, malted barley, yeast and local Ein Samia spring water) and according to the German Purity Law of 1516.
Taybeh means “delicious” in Arabic and it’s certainly an apt title for its range of beers – Golden, Dark and Amber as well as a non-alcoholic version. The self-titled tagline of “The Best Beer in the Middle East” isn’t the kind of hyperbole normally associated with the mass-produced global beer giants but rather a legitimate and probably accurate statement of fact. The current political situation in the West Bank adds many obstacles and difficulties for Palestinian businesses but Taybeh has managed to get their product exported to numerous countries in Europe and worldwide as well as being widely available in Israel and the West Bank.
The company runs daily tours of the brewery by appointment where you told the history of the company and shown the beer making process as well as tasting of one of their products. It is located on the outskirts of the town of Taybeh on the road to Ramallah. I visited while on the “Best of the West Bank” tour run by Abraham’s Hostel in Jerusalem, which visits the brewery as part of an itinerary that includes Bethlehem, Jericho and other sites. The beginning of October is a great time to visit Taybeh as the company organises a 2 day Oktoberfest in the town as a celebration not only of its beer but also other local products and Palestinian culture.
Taybeh Beer is a fantastic example of a successful Palestinian business and of the potential of the region to have a successful entrepreneurial economy in a moderate political and social climate. If you’d like to support this or simply want to try a fantastic range of beers, visit the brewery or track down a Taybeh beer.
Click here for details of Abraham Tours "Best of the West Bank Tour".
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