The Heineken Experience

The Disneyland of Amsterdam. The Heineken Experience is basically a 90 minute marketing ploy, and they do it so well.
AM After we hopped off of the canal boat, we walked down the street and into two separate Heineken offices that were so fancy we thought they were the museum, until we finally found our way into the true location.
AM2 After you weave down the long hallway, past a digital bar with a digital bartender explaining a little of the history, you get to see some of the original artifacts from the beginnings of the brewery.
AM3 And then it gets weird. I heard a creaking sound and a booming voice and looked up. In the style of Disney, a video of and actor portraying Gerard Adriaan Heineken began playing, talking down on us as if we were in a fermentor.
AM4 The do-it-yourself tour continues through the museum with information boards about the history…
AM5 Old flip top bottles…
AM6 The original brewniforms…
AM8 The evolution of coasters…
AM9 And then you emerge into the former brewery where you can look into the mash tuns, lauter tuns and boil kettles and watch an informative video about what occurs in each one.
Screen shot 2013-09-24 at 7.10.44 AM They also give you samples of wort. Yup, tastes like sugar water. We skipped the section where they explain the ingredients of beer and continued upward.
AM10 I was wondering why the brewery smelled like a farm! The stables right outside house the Heineken branded Shire horses. Immediately after is the 3D ride where you “become the beer”. You stand on a platform, hold tight to the bar in front of you and are shaken as they mill, mash, boil, ferment, bottle and pasteurize you. Basically, the platform shakes, shifts and bounces while they alternate between squirting water on you, turn on heaters above and release “fermentation” bubbles. Not the most exciting “ride”, but entertaining nonetheless.
AM11 Then it was time to learn how to taste beer. According to the Heineken crew, the head of the beer is there solely for the purpose of  “protecting the beer”, and they cut the head with a “beer foam skimmer” to help retain it… Interesting theory…
AM12 We looked at the color, took a quick sniff, raised our glasses and sipped.
AM13 “How does it taste?” Asks crew member #15. “Sweet! Refreshing! Bitter!” Yells the crowd.
AM14 After the tasting session, we sat in a miniature movie theatre and watched some of the commercials they created for the different sports and movies Heineken has promoted. These were truly impressive and entertaining: each was like a mini-adventure movie that went on for three minutes.
AM15 More large playrooms awaited, full of flashy branding.
AM16 They had a DJ booth where you could spin your own mixes…
AM17 A “club room” to feature their new stainless steel bottles…
AM18 Regular lighting…
AM19 And black lights!
AM20 A screen that follows your movements in flashes and swirls of light…
AM21 A pouring game where you can test your skills…
AM22 Boom.
AM23 Creepy claymation from a movie they made on the history of the brewery…
AM24 And the bar! At the entrance they gave us wristbands with three tokens on them. Two for beer and one for a free bottle opener.
AM25 Since we’d begun the tour half an hour after they opened, we were able to snag a booth and avoid the massive crowds we saw piled up as we left.
am29 So yes, it’s a big marketing trip from a mass-production brewery, but I still had a wonderful time and enjoyed every aspect, especially being able to try the beer from the source. I’m a beer nerd, not a beer snob.

Except for that whole “beer foam solely protects the beer” thing where they didn’t mention the importance of the head holding the aroma. I’m a little snobby about that.


Filed under Travel

2 Responses to The Heineken Experience

  1. James

    Looks like a cool place to visit. I detested Heineken for the longest time, but decided to try it again (company event – other choices were Bud Light or Coors Light) and didn’t think it was as bad as I remember. I’m sure it tasted better from the source.

    Love the blog. Thanks for posting.

    • Trying it without any trace of skunk was amazing! I’d never had either Heineken or Becks that was clean prior to this trip thanks to those wonderful green bottles.

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