Monday, 30 July 2012

The Heineken Experience - Amsterdam

While I was in Amsterdam back in April I visited the Heineken Experience.  This is more of a museum and activity center than a brewery tour as Heineken hasn’t been brewed in the old brewery since the 80s, but it is still worth a visit for those of us interested in beer.

Half of the Experience is about how the company was built through four generations of the Heineken family and how they developed the world renowned beer we know today.  The second half of the Experience explores the marketing side of the company, which has played a huge part in its success.

I was very interested to learn that currently the company is owned by a woman, Charlene de Carvalho-Heineken.  She gives you a little speech via video part way through.  When you get into the old brewery proper with the mash tuns and old equipment on display you get a chance to taste the wort made from the ingredients Heineken brews with.  I didn’t realize how sweet and like warm cereal it would taste!  I also had a go at stirring the wort while wearing traditional brewers garb.

One of the activities you can take part in is being brewed.  You are shown a video discussing the brewing process while standing on a platform that moves.  It shakes and mixes you while the temperature in the room also changes and you get sprayed with water!  I apparently now know how malts feel.

There is of course the obligatory beer tasting at the end of the Experience.  With your ticket you get a wrist band with three tokens on.  One token is good for a half pint.  You get a half pint in the tasting and then at the very end can get more in the World Bar. 

Overall I found the Heineken Experience interesting, it is definitely a different approach to a beer tour.  A lot of the information is about the company and its marketing process however so if all you really want to know about is the beer and the brewing process, that side is a little light.  I still think it is worth seeing though, but you definitely have to be a beer or business enthusiast to really enjoy it.

Friday, 27 July 2012

Beers in Europe

Hello! Welcome to A Woman’s Brew. I started this blog to record my adventures with beer as I travel around the world… unfortunately work got in the way and I haven’t had chance to really get stuck in.  So let’s try again!

There are so many things that I want to write about yet so little time to do it. However, I am drinking beer and trying new styles all the time.  So maybe the best place to start is my tasting notes.

Back in April and May I was in Europe and got to sample some new brews while I was there. I had the usual suspects such as Sagres in Azores and Heineken in Amsterdam (more on that later) but I also got a few more enticing numbers:

Weische Witte
Drank this complex brew in Amsterdam after a day visiting the Heineken Experience. I enjoyed it a lot as there wasn’t too much clove but some fresh citrus flavours to refresh the palette.

Pilsner Urquell
Though I didn’t get chance to go to its homeland, I tried this beer in the crew bar of my cruise ship.  I felt it had a chewy mouth feel and good biscuity taste.

Lapin Kulta
This native of Helsinki, Finland went really well with my chicken and garlic pizza – a slight lime aroma with a citrus alkaline kick.  It is golden in the glass with a slight foam head and bitter biscuit and lime flavour.

Rostocker Pils Premium
While in Warnemunde, Germany, you can’t get much more local than this.  However, I wasn’t too impressed with this brew.  It has an astringent, lemony aroma that continues into the flavour and unfortunately reminded me of dish water. I had a Krombacher to wash the taste away and was much happier.

So, there’s a start to my beer travels.  Keep an eye out for more about the Heineken Experience in Amsterdam and a blog post all of it’s own for the beers I tried in Estonia!