It’s the most important time of year for the Khoury brothers, the Boston-educated master brewers behind Taybeh (translation: delicious), the only beer made in Palestine. Oktoberfest is just days away, and the local take on the German festival has been moved from the tiny village of Taybeh to the five-star luxury of the Mövenpick hotel in Ramallah.
Nadim Khoury spoke to Metro about the festival outgrowing their small village, the challenges of staging an event in occupied territory and how the event ties back to the pharaohs.
What should visitors most look forward to at the fest?
We have a great Bavarian band coming to play; there’s going to be a lot of activity over the two days. We will have a lot of Palestinian music groups, hip-hop, food – and of course the beer.
Do people get rowdy and cause trouble?
So far they have been behaving themselves. Visitors don’t drink as much as Germans do but they are happy to support our local beer and the economy. Most people get very excited about it.
What do you have in common with the German event?
We brew according to Bavarian law, and even connoisseurs are pleased with the taste and quality. You could say the pharaohs invented brewing 500 years ago and we’re bringing back the tradition.
Are you worried there will be less atmosphere in the hotel than the village?
It’s for security reasons, because we grew the crowd [16,000 last year] and there’s not enough space. People were complaining there was only one exit and we were worried about safety.
That must have upset the locals…
People are very supportive – some old-timers don’t like hip-hop but most people enjoy the party. The falafel man makes 16,000 shekels [$4,500] in a weekend, which is more than the rest of the year.
How’s business? There must be a lot of restrictions.
Yes, we are occupied. We don’t have a country or borders so we have to use an Israeli port. We have to deal with the Wall and checkpoints, and we cannot advertise. There are so many obstacles but we are determined to stay and produce quality products.