This week saw my first ever venture into Palestine as I decided to go to the West Bank. Well I’m backpacking the Middle East and have been for a few weeks – life’s been busy so not as many live posts recently, so this is one. I’ve been working alongside Tourist Israel, an awesome company that cater for all sorts of backpacking tours in Israel and Palestine, and they are based at the fantastic Abraham Hostel in Jerusalem. While backpacking the Middle East it’s always nice to try local beers, especially given that alcohol is frowned upon and forbidden in some states. I loved Taybeh Palestinian Beer! Thirsty Thursdays in this heat also means that alcohol is a Godsend, no pun intended and I even attended a Beer Festival in Ramallah. Hope it’s OK to use the word “God” in this context as I rolled my travelling bandwagon into the little town of Bethlehem, itself the birthplace of Jesus…
So I had heard good things about Taybeh, a Palestinian beer brewed in Ramallah. If you thought Muslim and Arab states were all about strict drinking laws, think again. Don’t forget I’ve had crazy nights out in Brunei, awesome beers in Indonesia and even drank in the desert of Wadi Rum in Jordan. Yes, for muslims alcohol is prohibited, but that doesn’t mean they don’t know how to make the stuff.
Whatever your views on Israel and Palestine, please put that aside for once. This is just about a beer. Either it tastes good or it doesn’t. After visiting the birthplace of Jesus, housed inside the Church of the Nativity, I felt it was time for lunch and a beer. My girlfriend Panny and I had been joined for the day by an Italian backpacker, Elena and she insisted on buying me a drink. I’m not the tight arsed backpacker I once was, but I still don’t normally take people up on offers if they’re in the same boat as me. But Elena insisted so we went to a bar right in the Manger Square (wonder where they got that title from) and they served Taybeh on tap and in bottles. I opted for the cheapest one which was a half litre of the draught stuff.
The bar inside the restaurant only had one tap. It only needed one. You can’t buy any Israeli beer of course, but you do pay in Shekels for your drink. Priced at 18 Shekels, this beer in Palestine wasn’t cheap. But I watched in awe as the barman poured my first beer in Palestine.
We had brought our own cheap packed lunch – cheap baguettes (5 shekels for 10 bits of bread!), avocado and tomato (5 shekels for a bag) to eat while I enjoyed the beer. As the sun beat down on Manger Square and floods of tourists to visit Jesus passed by, I sipped and enjoyed my Taybeh. It was a pleasant surprise. An ale with a good flavour and a beer I’d recommend!
At some point I will be compiling a list of all the beers I have tried, including what country they are from. This was my first beer from Palestine ever and I loved it. More from Israel, Palestine and Jordan to come as I backpack the Middle East. If you’re keen to see Bethlehem and try the Taybeh, head to the Bethlehem Day Tours part of Abraham’s Site. Safe travels!
Thirsty Thursdays is an ongoing regular feature on Don’t Stop Living – a lifestyle of travel. If you have a bar, pub, drink, restaurant, brand or idea that you would like featured on Thirsty Thursdays, please get in touch via my contacts page or my advertising page. I’d love to hear from you, and I’d also love a free Taybeh.
Here’s a video from trying Taybeh in Palestine: