Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Taybeh brewers host Bavarian-style Beer festival in Palestine

Micro-brewers in the West Bank have laid on a Bavarian-style Bierfest, one of the least likely keg parties hosted anywhere. It's the third annual celebration in the Christian Palestinian town, which has been stymied by Israeli checkpoints and travel restrictions. The big festival hosted by the brewery's owner, Nadim Khoury, has attracted thousands of visitors to his village to taste the best (and only) beer micro-brewed in the Middle East.

The only route in and out of the village is controlled by an Israeli military checkpoint, there for the protection of three settlements lying east and west of the village. Taybeh residents and their wares need special permits to use the roads.

"Because of the Israeli occupation we wanted the Oktoberfest to open up Taybeh to the outside word, not just the brewery but all our fellow producers, so people will come here and taste our wonderful beer and see other products," said Mr Khoury, a Palestinian-American.

The brewery had prepared extra kegs ahead of the annual beer-fest
Taybeh - which means "good" and "tasty" in Arabic - makes three varieties of beer, the original Gold, a stronger Dark (which is 6% alcohol) and the latest addition to the stable, Amber, half-way between them in body and strength.

Mr Khoury is currently testing a way of producing alcohol-free beer, which means he will be able to sell in more conservative Muslim areas in the West Bank and beyond.

The beer is brewed using a 500-year-old German purity law which allows only four ingredients: malt, hops, pure water and yeast.

Martin Asser, a beer-swilling roving reporter from the BBC
described how

a young man who has come from Ramallah confides to me that he is a member of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, a militant offshoot of the Fatah faction.
A shy young man explained why he - a Christian - wanted to join the quasi-Islamist group, branded a terrorist organisation by Israel and its allies for a string of suicide bombings in Israeli cities.

Then he looks down at the glass of beer in his hand, and around at the smiling crowds, and says it is the first day he has been truly happy for many years.

Izzy Bee will drink to that!

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