The Church of Heineken
In the 80’s Heineken transformed their old brewery into an interactive museum that has become a tourist destination. While some parts of the tour are pretty cheesy – think World of Coca-Cola in Atlanta if you’ve been – I’d recommend a visit if you’re in Amsterdam and you like beer or marketing.
The museum begins with the company’s origins in 1864 as a small family enterprise and follows its rise to international branding and distribution success.
After World War I, the company focused more and more on export. Three days after Prohibition ended in the U.S., the first Heineken shipment landed in New York. Since then Heineken has been one of the most successful imported beer brands in the U.S.
Today Heineken is the third largest brewer in the world after Anheuser-Busch and SABMiller. It is sold in more than 170 countries and employs approximately 66,000 people.
Heineken is made with purified water, malted barley, hops, and a proprietary yeast known as Heineken A-yeast. It takes about a month to brew-about twice as long as other beers.
Just when I was convinced that beer fermenting smells like a horse, I entered the stable walk section of the tour. Allegedly these Heineken shire horses draw wagons that still help deliver Heineken to some parts of the Netherlands. I’m a little skeptical….
And now onto the golden stuff! Here the bartender schooled us on how to perfectly serve and drink a Heineken.
At this point we were invited to taste some Heineken. I scored an extra beer (just what I needed at 11am) after answering the trivia question correctly: What gives a beer its flavor? HOPS! I don’t think anyone else in my group spoke English well enough to understand what he was asking.
Then it was onto more exhibits.
Following this was the touted interactive “ride” through the brewing process, called “Brew U,” where you are made to feel like you are a beer going from the brewing tanks to a finished, bottled and boxed carton. You are shaken up, sprayed with water and subjected to heat – all while standing up against a railing, it was as weird as it sounds. All I could think about was how in the U.S. they would definitely make you sit down and fasten a seatbelt before shaking the ground beneath you and this would definitely make some of my family member nauseous.
Two beers are included in the cost of admission and I must have looked lonely while I sat in the bar enjoying my beer after the tour because the bartender kept bringing me refills. I didn’t catch her name but thanks friend! I also want to thank the two tour guides who asked me which college I went to in the States, thinking I was with the other Spring Breakers. God bless you.