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  • Writer's pictureTiffany Lai

A Brief History of the Heineken Experience in Amsterdam

What is the Heineken Experience?

The Heineken Experience is an interactive journey through a brewery established over 150 years ago, now one of the world’s major beer brands.

Heineken Experience

Ank kumar, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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Heineken Experience History

Every year, the Netherlands produces over 2 billion litres of beer. Half of it is exported across the globe, and the rest is shared out at home. The largest and perhaps the most famous of the country’s producers is Heineken, an Amsterdam-based brewery founded in 1864. Known for its light, refreshing taste and iconic green bottle, the brand is known globally as one of the Netherlands’ most successful exports.

Today, the Heineken factory in Amsterdam has become the Heineken Experience, an immersive visitor centre full of activities, which unfolds the company’s proud history. It was unveiled in 1991, three years after the company moved from its primary brewing location and original headquarters, the Marie Heinekenplein building, to a larger facility constructed on the outskirts of the city.

The Experience is spread over four floors and paints a detailed portrait of the Heineken family, beginning with founder Gerard Adriaan Heineken, before telling the story of the company and its famous beer. In 1886, Heineken patented their very own A-Yeast, source of the light and slightly fruity flavour. In the 1980s, the company turned its attention to sustainable initiatives and Charlene Lucille de Carvalho-Heineken joined the board of directors, spearheading an agenda of environmentally sensitive and responsible growth. (Get this right, was the thinking, and the rest will follow.)

Every Heineken contains only three ingredients: malted barley, water and hop extract. Brewing takes 28 days, and this longer process is what gives the drink its golden colour, unusual for a light-tasting lager. On the tour you can take a peek at the old factory complete with sparkling, copper brewing vessels and the old stables. These old stables used to hold the horses that powered Heineken’s commerce in the 19th century, dragging steam boats along canals to and from the coast as well as delivering beer around the country. Today, nine horses remain as a tourist attraction and can be seen being driven twice a day: through the city at 9.30am and at 1pm through Vondelpark.

The Heineken Experience is not your typical brewery tour. There are many opportunities to participate: learning to pour properly, as well as journeying through a 4D adventure of a beer from first brew to bottle. There are also plenty of chances to take some fun mementos to show your friends and family, completing the ultimate Dutch experience. Proost!

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