Four huge copper silos stand side by side in the hall. Until 1988 this was the heart of the famous old Heineken brewery in Amsterdam. Now the world famous firm is using its historic building to present a highly modern interactive exhibition on itself and its products called “The Heineken Experience”. And a tour through the old brewery certainly is an experience to savour! It all revolves around beer and how it comes into existence – from malting the barley to storing the newly-fermented beer in colossal tanks. Visitors are captivated by the combination of the original fixtures and furnishings and computerised simulations. Things are taken to such extremes that you can even experience what it feels like to be moved around a filling plant from the perspective of a beer bottle – a real helter-skelter! Then again you may suddenly find yourself perched on the coachman’s seat of a beer wagon in front of a pyramid of beer barrels pulled by a team of brewery horses. The history of the firm is also recreated in a vivid manner including all the pioneering commercials spots. And if all this isn’t enough to get your mouth watering there are two bars full of freshly tapped Heineken beer awaiting you at the end of your journey.
Water, malt, hops and yeast are all you need to make a good beer. That was also the opinion of Gerard Adriaan Heineken, when he bought up the well-known De Hooiberg brewery in 1863. He had been in the brewery business for four years and had collected enough experience to engage the help of an expert from Bavaria, one of the world’s great beer-making areas. 29 years later Heineken beer was awarded a gold medal at the World Exhibition in Paris. Between these two dates there had been experiments in new cooling techniques, the brewery had set up its own chemical laboratory and succeeded in isolating a strain of yeast bacteria which was particularly suitable for fermentation. The basic ingredients of beer may be simple, but there are thousands of variations in making it. Malting the barley alone – the freshly-harvested grain has to be softened up in water and then dried at high temperatures – has a decisive influence on the flavour, colour, frothiness and life of the finished product. The founder of Heineken beer put all his efforts into achieving and maintaining a high standard of quality. His efforts were justly rewarded with success. Perhaps he was helped a little by the red star which adorned the front of the Heineken bottles from the very start. People say that similar stars hung above mash tuns in mediaeval times as a sort of amulet to ward off evil influences. Over the years the main brewery in Amsterdam was renovated on many occasions, for the last time in the 1930s. Even then a considerable part of the production was exported abroad. Not for nothing was Heineken the first brewery to export its products to the USA after prohibition came to an end. Nowadays Heineken-Holding produces almost 100,000,000 hectolitres of beer in a total of over 110 breweries in more than 50 countries around the globe. Internationally it is the second largest brewery in the world. As for the original recipe – water, malt, hops and yeast – that’s scarcely changed at all. Only the old headquarters have disappeared. In 1988 production was stopped here. Since then the building has been revived in a new form to house the exhibition on the Heineken Experience.
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Monday - Sunday 11am-7pm
Last ticket sales: 5.30pm
Under 18s only admitted under parental guidance