The Palestinian territories may seem an unlikely place to hold an Oktoberfest beer festival. But since 2005, one small West Bank village has been doing just that. During the festival, the village's largely Christian community swells to nearly 10 times its usual size. Thousands of visitors arrive to sample the many brands of beer produced by the local brewery. And as Sheera Frenkel reports, it also gives the territories a chance to show off a side of itself that many would not have guessed existed.
So you're minding your own business when all of a sudden, a nuclear bomb goes off, there's a shock wave, fires all around, general destruction and you, having somehow survived, need a drink. What can you do? There is no running water, not where you are. But there is a convenience store. It's been crushed by the shock wave, but there are still bottles of beer, Coke and diet soda intact on the floor.
So you wonder: Can I grab one of those beers and gulp it down? Or is it too radioactive? And what about taste? If I drink it, will it taste OK?
Until recently, if you ordered Japanese beer, there weren't many to choose from. Before the industry was deregulated in the 1990s, four major brewers — Asahi, Suntory, Sapporo and Kirin – controlled the manufacture of Japanese beer.
But the major brands' domination is ebbing, for reasons that have as much to do with Japan's ancient history as with its evolving palates. And now some traditional sake brewers are ditching the tradition and trying their hand at craft beer brewing.