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.