Palestinian Brewery Cancels Annual Oktoberfest

Taybeh Brewery, the only microbrewery in the West Bank, has cancelled its 2014 October festival in the wake of the war in Gaza.

Oktoberfest
A scene from the 2013 Taybeh Oktoberfest. Screenshot

The Taybeh Brewery, located in the West Bank town of the same name, has cancelled its annual Oktoberfest this year following the summer war in Gaza, according to USA Today.

"The blood in Gaza still did not dry, so we felt we needed better times to celebrate," said master brewer Nadim Khoury, who runs the family-owned business.

This is the first time the brewery has not hosted the October festival in the town in a decade. Khoury says he is now considering holding it at Christmas.

Khoury's love of beer started during his college days in Boston — home to the well-known Samuel Adams beer — where he had a home-brew kit that he always took with him during his yearly visits back to Taybeh.

Born and raised in the largely Christian town, Khoury returned home in 1993, after the signing of the Oslo Accords, He says he wanted to help establish what he thought would become the Palestinian state.

In 1995, Khoury and his brother David created the first and only Palestinian microbrewery – not a no-brainer in a community that is 95% Muslim and in which alcohol and alcohol advertising are strictly taboo. Growth was slow and it was only in the mid-2000s that Taybeh beer began to reach a wider market beyond the Christian towns in the West Bank.

Today, Taybeh beer is sold in Israel and Europe and has a solid reputation, based on Khoury's training in the traditional German style of brewing beer. He says he uses a top fermenting yeast and cold lagering to create a clean taste and doesn't include additives, chemicals or sugar in the brewing process.

Brewing under occupation has its drawbacks, Khoury says. Until recently, exporting kegs of Taybeh beer into Israel required going through a checkpoint nearly six hours away. The kegs were checked for explosives before being sent to Jerusalem and other parts of Israel. Now the brewery has a permit to use a checkpoint that's only a 45-minute drive away.

"Brewing here ... is not like brewing anywhere in the world. If I run out of yeast in Germany or Belgium, you can go down the street to get more. Here you have to plan things in advance," he says.

Khoury's hopes of participating in the building of Palestine in 1993 were not realized, but he still hopes for a long-term solution for the Palestinian people. He doesn't think aid from the U.S. or Europe is the answer. "We believe the state of Palestine can be built by people coming back and investing in their country, not by waiting for aid," he says.