Message in a bottle:

The Inspiring Story of Palestine’s First Beer Brewery

Perched on a hill, overlooking the charming town of Taybeh on the West Bank of the Jordan River, with panoramic views of the Dead Sea, Amman, and Jerusalem, a Palestinian family-owned brewery writes an extraordinary story that evolves with every delicious sip. Here, beer is being brewed, served with a slice of peace and hope.
PHOTOGRAPHY: Afif Amireh

Taybeh, a small and charming village about 50 kilometres north of Jerusalem, hides a  surprising and internationally acclaimed asset: the Taybeh Brewing Company. Drawing locals and visitors from all over the world and hosting a number of events such as Oktoberfest, Taybeh Beer has turned the village of Taybeh into a place of pilgrimage for beer connoisseurs from all over the world. But is not just a place to enjoy exquisitely crafted beers, it is also a dynamic hub for community engagement, says Madees Khoury, Managing Director of the brewery. ‘We named the company after our hometown.’ In a delightful coincidence, 'Taybeh' in Arabic means delicious, capturing not just the essence of the beer but also the spirit of the town itself. 

On any given day, people who come to Taybeh can visit the brewery to unwind, enjoy a range of delicious beers, bring their own culinary delights for a picnic, or explore traditional restaurants. An optional lovely 2.5-hour walk starting from the brewery, meanders through the old town and church, and ends with a refreshing beer amid the olive groves.

“'Taybeh' in Arabic means delicious, capturing not just the essence of the beer but also the spirit of the town itself ”
A Family Legacy

Taybeh Beer's journey began in 1994, amid the optimism of the Oslo Accords. The Khoury family, including Madees, her father Nadim, uncle David and grandfather Canan, embarked on a venture aimed at shaping a peaceful future for Palestinians. Despite the challenges – political, resource and logistical – the family persevered, driven by a commitment to their roots and the broader Palestinian story.

‘My father, a master brewer who learned the craft in his student years, and his brother decided to open a brewery in Palestine. It was a challenge from my grandfather, who quickly secured the permits and blessings for the venture.’ 

Growing up, the younger generation of the Khoury family actively participated in the brewery, with Madees being the first of her generation to return to start working for the family business after studying in the United States. She currently works with her father, uncle, and brother, who, with a Harvard degree in mechanical engineering, also founded Taybeh Winery, known for a wine called Nadim, named after their father.

Taybeh Beer's impact extends far beyond the borders of Palestine. As early as 1997, Taybeh opened a brewery in Germany, from where it could export their products to other European countries, and beyond. ‘We now export to 17 countries, with 50% of sales in Palestine, 35% in Israel and the remaining percentage internationally. Despite the challenges, we continue to invest in expanding the brewery, introducing new products, and entering new markets.’

For Madees, working in the family business goes beyond producing high-quality products; it's about portraying a different side of Palestine. It is a commitment to building a future based on the pillars of resilience, creativity, and unity.

Madees Khoury-Director of Taybeh beer brewery
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A toast to unity and peace

The brewing process, Madees says, involves a fusion of passion, hard work, and a touch of everything. But brewing beer in Palestine poses some unique challenges. ‘Other than being under occupation, there are water shortages, and moving around and transportation is very difficult.’ Despite the obstacles, the brewery produces approximately 6,000 hectolitres of beer annually, which translates to around 1.8 million 330-ml bottles a year.

When crafting, bottling and distributing their beers, the Taybeh Brewing Company is not just sending beverages into the world; the cans and bottles also contain a deeper subtle but powerful message. In addition to the hops and malt, every bottle of Taybeh beer contains a story. It is a story of overcoming adversity, a testament to the family legacy and a chapter in the larger story of Palestine. 

“A glass of beer completes the scene, inviting everyone to raise a toast to unity and peace”

This is for instance illustrated in the brewery's logo. Crafted with meticulous attention to detail, the logo contains elements that symbolise the essence of Taybeh: Three wooden barrels and stairs represent the brewery and symbolise the journey of making each batch of beer. On the edges, French and Belgian malts add a touch of authenticity, while Bavarian hops at the bottom are a nod to brewing traditions that have stood the test of time. A sunrise adorns the logo, shedding a hopeful light on the future of Palestine and symbolising a new dawn for Taybeh. The image of the brewery on the hills of Taybeh is a nod to its geographical roots, and a glass of beer completes the scene, inviting everyone to raise a toast to unity and peace.

This thoughtful integration of elements not only creates visual appeal, but also reveals a deeper story in the brand's identity, especially where the sunrise and the raised glass are concerned. The Taybeh Beer logo becomes more than a symbol; it becomes a story etched in every detail and that invites consumers to connect with the brand on a deeper level.

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Limited edition brews

‘We believe not only in crafting beer, but also in creating experiences,’ Madees emphasises. ‘Our limited-edition brews are a testament to our commitment to offering our customers something unique, allowing them to enjoy the diverse flavours that Palestine has to offer.

These limited-edition infusions, which incorporate local Palestinian herbs, further illustrate Taybeh Beer's commitment to pushing the boundaries of traditional brewing. These special releases aren't just about flavours; they represent a fusion of tradition and innovation, a celebration of the region's culinary heritage in a contemporary context.

“Taybeh Beer is not just a drink – it is a celebration of resilience, a tribute to tradition and a bridge that connects cultures, one sip at a time”

Imagine the brewery hosting events where guests can enjoy these limited-edition brews, with each sip taking a journey through the landscapes of Palestine. The infusion of sumac adds a citrusy note, while zaatar introduces a spicy complexity, creating an immersive experience for beer lovers eager to explore new horizons.

Taybeh's search for limited edition infusions fits seamlessly with the overarching story of resilience, creativity, and unity. It reflects the brand's adaptability and willingness to evolve and reflects the dynamic tapestry of Palestinian culture.

So, the next time you enjoy a cold Taybeh beer, whether at the brewery in Taybeh or in a faraway country, remember that you’re not just having a drink; you’re enjoying a slice of Palestine, a story of hope and a commitment to a future brewed in peace. Taybeh Beer is not just a drink – it is a celebration of resilience, a tribute to tradition and a bridge that connects cultures, one sip at a time.

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Did you know?

Taybeh is the only 100% Christian village left in Palestine, with approximately 1,300 residents. It is estimated that more than 10,000 diaspora Palestinians are originally from Taybeh.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Hamza Sarraj is a multi-award winning Palestinian architectural engineer and social entrepreneur who has dedicated his career to combining his heritage with ground-breaking innovation. Early in his career, he worked on the restoration and rehabilitation of the Armenian Genocide Museum in Jerusalem and oversaw projects for Bethlehem University and the Bet Sahour Arab Orthodoxy Club. He later co-founded design and development consulting studio 16 Baker Street Studio, and Zamakan Virtual Reality, a...

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ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPHER

Filmmaker and photographer Afif H. Amireh studied journalism in Egypt and Jerusalem and worked for several news outlets as a producer before pursuing his passion for filmmaking and videography. Recognizing the power of still imagery, Afif bought his first camera in 2010, marking the start of his journey as a photojournalist and storyteller. Afif's talent and dedication have taken him around the world, capturing the essence of diverse cultures and communities. Throughout his career, he has collab...

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