The Booze Baron of the West Bank
In a land where neither business nor booze is known to prosper, one enterprising Palestinian turns hops and locally grown grapes into both profit and pride.
In an otherwise sleepy village twelve miles northeast of Jerusalem lies a markedly bustling hub of activity, where crates full of grapes and hops are brought in and full boxes of clinking bottles are brought out. Welcome to Taybeh, the only center for wine and beer production in the West Bank, and the first microbrewery in the Middle East.
“Taste the revolution,” the poster on the door invites. Inside the Taybeh Brewery headquarters, men patrol a conveyer belt of brown bottles, checking that everything is fine each step of the way. Tiny Palestinian flags are draped across the roof, hanging above large steel barrels where malt, barley, and hops are being mixed with water from Ein Samia, a spring around twelve miles north of Ramallah. Next door is a different scene. Four men huddle around a big vat of grapes and verify their quality before they’re churned into liquid. In the corner, a man tests the acidity of the wine by pouring it into various test tubes.