Taybeh Brewing Company: After the signing of the Oslo Agreement in 1993 (the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements), Nadim Khoury returned to his historic hometown of Taybeh in the West Bank, occupied Palestinian territory, in 1994. Nadim had studied engineering in Boston and then went to California to UC Davis to study in the master brewers program. Taybeh Brewing Company (www.taybehbeer.com) was formally established in 1995 on the Khoury family property and is the first and only Palestinian brewery. Nadim's daughter, Madees, is the first female brewer in Palestine.
Tour of the Brewery: Nadim explained each step of the brewing process, which follows the German Purity Law of 1516, as he showed me the equipment used at each stage. Malted barley imported from France or Belgium is ground (mashed) on site and heated with water to convert the barley to malt extract. The "spent" barley is given to local farmers for animal feed. Hops and then yeast are added prior to the 30 day fermentation process. The beer is clarified , bottled and ready for shipping.
Taybeh beer is enjoyed locally and exported to Japan, Sweden, Germany, Israel and Belgium.
Tasting: Taybeh beer is unpasteurized and has no added fillers or preservatives which presumably explains the refreshing, crisp taste of the Golden and the Draught styles of Taybeh beer I have tried. I must confess that I have yet to study the beer course in the sommelier program so I will have to do a more "professional" tasting on my next trip to Palestine! I did note an ever so slight bitter (but pleasant) flavour on the finish of the Golden beer. I have yet to try Taybeh's Amber, Dark and non-alcoholic styles.
From Ramallah to Taybeh: I notified Nadim and Madees of my intention to visit the brewery via email and they kindly accommodated my visit during my first weekend in Ramallah. I took a taxi from Ramallah to Taybeh (a 30 minute journey) passing by Jalazone, one of 19 refugee camps in the West Bank. The camp was established in 1949 and has more than 11,000 inhabitants today. Jalazone lies to the west of the road and immediately east, behind the usual fencing, is an Israeli settlement. The taxi driver named each village we passed through (and quizzed me on the return trip to ensure I remembered the names) as well as the Israeli security points along the way.