“Taste the Revolution”, it’s really good
It’s no secret that I like beer a lot, everyone who knows me knows that and also my stomach betrays me. I owe the hobby to my father and many good friends who, like my old man, accompany me from other dimensions knowing that I remember them every time I drink a cold beer, also to people with whom I continue to enjoy the pleasure of a cold beer whenever life allows.
One of my beer dreams has always been to visit Oktoberfest in Bavaria. Enjoy German beer, as it should be, as God intended. Also, I must admit that the typical image of smiling Germans in their “dirndl” carrying huge mugs of frothy beer really appeals to me. But Germany is still on hold and for now I’ve changed this image to typical Palestinian costumes, kufiyas and a newly discovered beer that I love, Taybeh.
A few days ago, I was at the Taybeh Brewery Oktoberfest in the Christian Palestinian town of the same name in the occupied West Bank. An event that has been held since 2005 when, just after the Second Intifada, Nadim Khoury, creator of the popular beer, decided to organize an Oktoberfest to show the world that Palestinians are resisting and that they are people who like to enjoy life.
The courtyard of the factory, usually empty, was decorated for the occasion with a long bar with beer dispensers, a sort of Taybeh altar. There were also typical Palestinian food stalls, handicrafts and a thousand other trinkets. And people, lots of people, a mix of Palestinians, foreigners residing in the West Bank and Israel and even the occasional Jew who, wearing his yarmulke, was cooling off with a cold beer. It looked like a warm, wonderful Tower of Babel where everyone drank beer, enjoyed Palestinian dances and competed in skills, like holding a huge mug of beer the longest.
Taybeh Brewing Company was founded in 1994, after the Oslo Accords of 1993, when Palestinian Nadim Khoury, exiled in the United States, decided to return to the land where his family had lived for more than half a century , excited about the creation of a Palestinian state and determined to make a living from what until then had been his hobby: making beer. “Taste the Revolution” was the slogan chosen to promote the brand. The Golden, the first variety produced and today the most accomplished.
This is how Taybeh, the first craft beer in the Middle East, was born. “A natural beer, without preservatives or additives, with only four ingredients: cereals, hops, yeast and water. Made to German purity standards,” Nadim proudly said.
Both times I visited Taybeh Brewery, I had the chance to speak ― she speaks eloquently and pleasantly as I try to decipher her perfect English ― with Madees Khoury, Nadim’s daughter and first wife with the title of master brewer in the Middle East. A double merit if we consider the machismo that reigns on this side of the world, where in addition the Muslim population does not consume alcohol for religious reasons.
Madees, who currently runs the successful family business, tells me that Taybeh, which emerged as a small business, is now marketed in 17 countries including Germany, Belgium, France, USA, Spain and Japan, all of which have a brewing tradition. It is also sold in Jerusalem, which obviously suits me very well.
“Today we have more than 10 beers and some very special ones,” Madees explains to me, “we have a pineapple Ipa, a salty lemon, a chocolate and a double Ipa. We are also experimenting with Palestinian spices like shumak, zatar or Arabic coffee.”
Interesting experiences, but I’m sticking to the classics, so I’m coming back from Taybeh Oktoberfest with a box of Taybeh Golden, to cool off the hot Jerusalem afternoons and, incidentally, to remember my first beers with my old.
Cuban photographer. More than 30 years of experience as a photo reporter for Cuban and international media. Worked for the press agencies EFE and Notimex. Now independent, in Spain en route to Jerusalem. I have a passion for photographing people, their customs and traditions, their daily lives. Write, tell stories; a new passion that has come to stay.