In the middle of Biblical Judea and Samaria, “Taybeh Beer” is still being brewed following the German purity law of producing an all-natural product and the only micro-brewed beer in the entire Middle East region in the spectacular rocky hill village of Taybeh
In the middle of Biblical Judea and Samaria, “Taybeh Beer” is still being brewed following the German purity law of producing an all-natural product and the only micro-brewed beer in the entire Middle East region in the spectacular rocky hill village of Taybeh.
The first and only Palestinian beer, “Taybeh Beer” was launched in 1995 following the Oslo Peace Agreement which gave great hope to many Palestinians living in the Diaspora to return and invest in their country and boost the economy. David Khoury and Nadim Khoury are the two brothers that returned to Palestine with their familes after twenty years in Boston and founded the new microbrewery operating The Taybeh Brewing Company, in their home village of Taybeh, near Ramallah, approximately twenty minutes from Jerusalem. This investment and homecoming fulfilled the life long dream of their father Mr. Canann Khoury who like every Palestinian father hopes his sons would get the skills and knowledge from the West and return to their homeland to maintain their roots and pass on their values and traditions to their children. A dream of passing on to the next generation the beauty and richness of the Palestinian culture which has been overshadowed by the Israeli occupation of the West Bank since l967.
Taybeh Beer is produced according to the German purity law with no preservatives and no additives. The ingredients are all healthy and top quality: malted barley, imported from Belgium; hops, imported from the best place in the world to obtain hops Bavaria and Czechoslovakia; yeast, and pure water, from the local natural spring Ein Samia. Taybeh Beer is all natural and 100% Palestinian. The word “Taybeh” in Arabic means delicious, thus not only named after the small Christian village of 1300 inhabitants that date their roots to the time of Christ.
The current reoccupation of the Palestinian territories and the general closure on all West Bank towns and villages has decreased Taybeh Beer sales by 80%. However, the Khourys are staying committed to producing the first and only premium quality Palestinian Beer and have great hope to overcome the current political and economic crisis in their area. They have faith in a new future in Palestine and Nadim Khoury, the master brewer states their aim is “to try to trade people up from drinking good to drinking best.” All is possible if Palestine has freedom and independence believes David Khoury. They will continue to brew Taybeh Beer even if it is in small batches and especially for loyal costumers who are great supports and request Taybeh Beer at popular spots like the American Colony, Embasador Hotel and Jerusalem Hotel restaurants.
Hope is good but lately the Taybeh Beer employees have been shrinking down from twelve to three people working in the brewery. They have experienced the worst of the worst with delivering beer to most locations due to the siege. For only a twenty minute ride, sometimes it takes up to four hours with the checkpoints and having to unload from a Palestinian registered plate truck to an Israeli registered plate truck and at times opening each and every single case for inspection. These procedures cause long delays and extra expenses in running the brewery, which imports all of its raw products through the Israeli port. Prior to September 2000, the markets for Taybeh Beer were in Palestine, Israel and Jordan.
Taybeh Beer is the first Palestinian product to receive franchise and be produced in Germany under the Taybeh Beer license from Palestine. The Khourys feel this fact alone helped them make history and great proof of the high quality of their product. Part of the reason Taybeh Beer gave franchise to Germany is to avoid the Israeli port that always has red tape for Palestinians using it.
This fall, the imported bottles from Portugal were held at the Israeli port for over three weeks costing excessively high port charges and fines. These difficulties living and working under Israeli occupation and also the decrease in the tourist industry because of the political instability has made the company suffer substantial losses. However, the Khourys remain hopeful for a better future and are willing to continue to produce the Palestinian beer in small batches.
Taybeh Beer is produced in three different flavors. The original brand, which is golden, is produced in bottles and draft for bars and hotels having 5% alcohol. The Taybeh Beer Dark was introduced to celebrate the new millenium in the Holy Land. It follows a classic style of the way monks brewed beer in the Middle Ages in order to fortify themselves during their fasting. It is a rich smooth dark beer. Also introduced for the 2000 celebrations in the Holy Land was Taybeh Beer Light, on the lighter side with flavor and character that can compete with the imported beers with under 4% alcohol.
The microbrewery started as a small $1.2 million family investment project with state-of-the-art equipment imported from Canada and semi automatic bottling line imported from Europe. Prior to the current crisis the brewery was producing 24,000 bottles of beer a week. As a service to the community, the left-over grain is given to the local farmers to be used as cattle feed. But all of the efforts and dreams of producing a Palestinian beer still remain at the mercy of Israel’s military policy.
Editors Note: David Khoury and Nadim Khoury are graduates of Hellenic College in the early 80’s when Dr. Thomas Lelon was president and the college offered a bachelor’s degree in business. David is married to Dr. Maria C. Khoury, also a Hellenic college graduate and the author of Orthodox children’s books.