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Just Beer


I stopped in a boutique downtown Jerusalem wine and beer shop yesterday. It's a landmark in downtown Jerusalem, a store that's been around forever. It's lived through the lean years of two uprisings that brought knifings and suicide bombings to the city, when even Israelis who lived in Tel Aviv avoided visiting their capital. It's enjoyed prosperous years when peace looked possible and tourism hit record highs.

On this day, in a period of low-grade violence and no peace talks, a man speaking Hebrew with a heavy French accent was tasting the wines and munching on bread and cheese between bottles of Chardonnay, Merlot and Pinot Gris. The atmosphere, as always, was welcoming. The manager remembered me and what I generally like to buy.

And when he rang up by bill, he slipped a flyer into my bag for a beer festival next month in Taybeh, a village in the West Bank near Ramallah.

The Taybeh Brewing Company, founded in 1994, during the glory years of the Oslo Peace Accord, has been celebrating Oktoberfest almost every year since 2005. It recently got a competitor, Birzeit Brewery that makes Shepherds Beer.

The wine store in west Jerusalem sells Taybeh beer, but didn't seem to carry Shepherds. Not yet.

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