Taybeh Brewery (Arabic: مخمرة الطيبة, lit. "Delicious Brewery") is a Palestinian brewery founded in 1994. The brewery is in the West Bank village of Taybeh, 35 kilometres (22 mi) north of Jerusalem in Ramallah and al-Bireh Governorate. It produced its first beer in 1995 and has since developed a global following. It is the first microbrewery in the Middle East.
|Location||Taybeh, West Bank, Palestinian Territories|
Taybeh Brewery was co-founded in 1994, shortly after the signing of the first Oslo Accords in 1993, by Nadim Khoury and his brother David. It has been described as a pioneer microbrewery in the region, having predated the first Israeli microbrewery, The Dancing Camel, by about ten years. It is also considered by the Khoury brothers and others to be the first Palestinian brewery.
The Khoury brothers grew up in Brookline, Massachusetts, where their family ran a liquor store. As a college student in the 1980s at Hellenic College in Brookline, Nadim began making his own beer in the basement of the dorm where he lived. He subsequently took up formal studies in brewing at UC Davis in California, eventually graduating with a master's degree.
The Taybeh Brewery was funded entirely with $1.5 million of the Khoury family's own money, as banks refused to lend to them. The Khoury family got the seed capital for Taybeh by selling their property in Brookline.
The idea of a Palestinian brewery was controversial in 1994, as Palestine is majority Muslim, and many Palestinian Muslims consider drinking alcohol to be haram (forbidden). According to Nadim Khoury, Palestinian President Yasser Arafat was an early supporter of the brewery, on the grounds that it would help break Palestine's dependence on alcohol imported from Israel. Nadim believes that Arafat's support was instrumental in enabling him to establish the brewery. However, Taybeh beer was also certified as kosher by a rabbi from the Ofra settlement shortly after its founding, and 70% of its sales before the outbreak of the Second Intifada in 2000 were to Israelis. Taybeh also depended on imports that passed through Israel for its equipment and ingredients.
In response to the Intifada and its associated violence, Israel began establishing checkpoints and erected the Israeli West Bank barrier fence and wall between the port of Ashdod, where Taybeh's hops, barley, and yeast were imported, and the brewery. Israeli checkpoints and inspections made it extremely difficult for Taybeh to import raw materials. In 2002, Nadim stated:
"[The Israelis] hold our shipment just to give us a hard time, to check if these are not weapons, to check them for security check-ups. They even take a sample of the bottles. They inspect them and they bring them back and charge us every time for security check ups, for opening these containers."
On one occasion, Taybeh was charged $6,000 in costs for hold-ups at the port of Ashdod on a $20,000 shipment of bottles. The barriers also complicate shipping of beer to customers in Israel or abroad: they cut off exports to Jordan and could lengthen the travel time from the brewery to Jerusalem from 20 minutes to several hours, for example. Tourism in Israel and Palestine also fell sharply because of the violence, a major problem for Taybeh because many of their customers are foreigners. As a result, sales plunged, with revenue falling by over 90% by 2002, and Khoury had to lay off all 12 of his employees. As a stopgap measure to keep the brewery in business, Taybeh sold olive oil produced by a local church in Taybeh village to a company in Belgium.
Taybeh recovered somewhat after the Intifada ended in 2005, with the brewery growing to six employees. However, it was dealt a major blow in 2007 when Islamist political party and militant group Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip and ended the sale of alcohol there.
Taybeh has continued to recover and expand since 2007 and is sold in at least 10 countries as of 2018. However, it continues to face obstacles imposed by the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and control of the ports. Taybeh continues to rely on Israeli ports for importing raw materials and exporting finished beer. Supplies that take two weeks to get from Europe to Israel can take another three months to reach the brewery in the West Bank. Similarly, Canaan notes that "the high cost of shipping - due to checkpoints and other constraints posed by Israel - makes it extremely difficult to compete in the US market." Taybeh beer kegs are cut open by Israeli authorities and their containers have been sent back multiple times, for instance. A disparity in water access in the West Bank brought about by continued Israeli settlement expansion means that Taybeh is concerned about limited access to water. It expects this to limit its international expansion, although it is able to use water from a local spring.
In 1997, Taybeh beer became the first Palestinian product to be franchised in Germany, where it was brewed and bottled for sale in Europe. Taybeh beer is also exported to Sweden and Japan, and is sold in the United Kingdom.
In 2008, an Australian named Lara van Raay produced a documentary called Palestine, Beer and Oktoberfest Under Occupation, which focuses on the Taybeh Brewery and the Khoury family.
In 2012, Taybeh opened a winery, which produces Syrah, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon red wines. The winery, which was established with the help of an Italian winemaker, has been run by Nadim Khoury's son Canaan since he graduated from Harvard in 2013 with an engineering degree.
In 2017, Taybeh beer and wine became available in the United States for the first time. The first American store to sell Taybeh was Foley's, the liquor store that the Khoury family ran before founding Taybeh Brewery, though their beer is sold in other stores around Massachusetts and in Rhode Island. Taybeh had been attempting to sell their beer in America since at least 2005, when it was first approved for sale in the US, but have faced obstacles to doing so. One barrier to Taybeh's entry into the US was that the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau's rules against "false or misleading statements on labels" prevented them from branding their beer as "Product of Palestine," as they do in other countries. As a result, Taybeh is sold in the US as "Product of the West Bank."
As of 2018[update], Taybeh is still available in Israeli bars and clubs. However, sale of it and other Palestinian beers remains controversial, to the point where some on the Israeli political right have called for boycotting it. As of 2017[update], 60% of Taybeh's sales are in Israel and the West Bank, down from 70% in the West Bank alone in 2010.
As of October 2018[update], there are six varieties of Taybeh Beer: Golden, Light, Dark, Amber, Non-alcoholic, and White. Golden, which is 5% alcohol by volume (ABV) is the original variety. Its taste has been compared to Samuel Adams' Boston Lager. The Dark and Light beers (6% and 3.5% ABV, respectively) were introduced for the 2000 celebrations in the Holy Land. The Dark variety follows a classic style of the way monks brewed beer in the Middle Ages in order to fortify themselves during their fasting. An Amber variety (5.5% ABV) was launched in 2007. A non-alcoholic beer variety was introduced in 2008 specifically for the local Palestinian Muslim market. Taybeh White (3.8% ABV), a Belgian-style wheat beer, was launched in 2013.
In addition to Palestine, Taybeh is sold in:
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Taybeh beer – a beer with a global cult following.
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The first microbrewery in the region was opened in 1996 in Taybeh near Ramallah in the Palestinian authority. The next microbrewery, The Dancing Camel, was open in 2005 in Tel Aviv.
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- Snaije, Olivia (22 June 2011). "Madees Khoury: Taste the revolution in Taybeh". Daily Star (Lebanon). Taybeh. Retrieved 15 July 2011.
Khoury’s father Nadim began making beer in his college dorm when home brewing became a trend in the 1980s and went on to the University of California at Davis to study brewing science.
- Mackie, Nick (11 December 2002). "Business caught in the crossfire". BBC. Retrieved 27 October 2018.
- "Find Taybeh Beer". Taybeh Brewing Company. Retrieved 28 October 2018.
- Pines, Adam (September 17, 2006). "Palestinian-style Oktoberfest goes down smooth". The Raw Story. Deutsche Presse Agentur. Retrieved 27 October 2018.
- "Palestine, Beer and Ocktoberfest Under Occupation – a DIY documentary". Paul McMillan Online. 13 July 2010. Archived from the original on 27 March 2012. Retrieved 28 February 2011.
- "Mutineer Magazine Issue #9 Preview". Mutineer Magazine. 28 December 2009. Retrieved 27 October 2018.
- "Palestinian pints divide Israeli pub". Middle East Online. 22 March 2018. Retrieved 27 October 2018.
- "Styles". Taybeh Brewing Company. Retrieved 27 October 2018.
- Khoury, Maria (29 May 2002). "Palestinian Beer brewed in Taybeh". Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem. Archived from the original on 23 November 2008. Retrieved 27 October 2018.
- "Middle East Online". Archived from the original on 3 June 2016. Retrieved 27 October 2018.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Taybeh Brewery.|
- Official website
- Taybeh's Parish - Beer[permanent dead link]
- "Intifada turns a family business into small beer" The Telegraph
- "Palestinian drinkers can hold their own" The Guardian
- "Palestinian Beer Lifts Israeli Spirits" The Medialine"