While Middle Eastern Christians rarely grab the attention of western media unless they’re being slaughtered, one small community on the West Bank has caught the eye of The Associated Press for a much happier reason — beer.
The small Palestinian village of Taybeh, the region’s last remaining Christian enclave, is also home to its only brewery, an unusual venture in the Muslim world. Taybeh Brewing Company, founded in 1994 after the Oslo Peace Agreement, offers four German-style beers, one Belgian, and even an entirely non-alcoholic brew, outdoing the more well-known O’Doul’s, which actually has an ABV of .5 percent.
The Khoury family founded the company upon returning to their ancestral home in Palestine after 20 years in the United States, where they ran Foley’s Liquors in Brookline, Mass. According to the AP report, they see their business as a form of “peaceful resistance” against those who oppose the Palestinian state.
“This is how we believe the state of Palestine can be built: by people like us to invest in the country and encourage other Palestinians to come and invest in their country,” founder Nadim Khoury told AP.
They even began hosting an annual Oktoberfest celebration in 2005, when Nadim’s brother David became the first democratically-elected mayor of Taybeh. Perhaps unlike some of its more western instantiations, Taybeh’s Oktoberfest featured prayer services ministering to all three major Christian communities in the village — Greek Orthodox, Melkite Catholic and Roman Catholic.
Despite its popularity — drawing some 16,000 visitors annually from across the globe — the Khourys decided to cancel it this year in light of renewed hostilities between Israel and Palestine. They did not dwell on the matter, saying only that “we hope to be able to celebrate during better times.” (RELATED: Christians Sheltering Muslims Fleeing Israeli Bombings)
Nadim Khoury has passed on his trade to his daughter, Madees, who now has the distinction of being the only female brewer in Palestine.
The Khourys say that their Muslim neighbors have not antagonized them for their trade, despite Islam’s condemnation of alcohol, and even recently opened a winery. run by Nadim’s son Canaan.
Taybeh beer is available throughout Israel and Palestine, and even as far off as Japan, Sweden, and Germany. According to their website, “Taybeh Brewing Company aspires to have Taybeh Beer in the UK and in the United States.”