If you are visiting Amsterdam for the first time, you will immediately become captivated by the incredible number of bicycles in and around the city and of course the canals that make the Dutch capital renowned as the Venice of the North. But there is another reason that you will soon love this city possibly more than any other in Europe (or even the world)…Heineken! Not only can you drink as much as you want but you can also have an amazing experience by taking the Heineken brewery tour in the heart of the city.
Having spent the morning taking a free walking tour of Amsterdam, we figured the best way to spend the afternoon was to either visit the world famous Rijksmuseum or alternatively opt for the Heineken Experience. Although we love to wander around art museums, there really was no choice here!!
Heineken + A Brit & A Southerner = ????
I will let you decide what the answer is to the above formula, but if you keep reading, by the end we will share our opinion!
Heineken Brewery Tour – The Experience
Beer lovers around the world, Amsterdam is calling you. Dublin may be the home of Guinness and Berlin may be stereotypical beer capital of the world, but Amsterdam is quietly becoming a popular hotspot for beer drinkers, predominantly because of the presence of Heineken on a global scale.
Visiting ‘The Heineken Experience’ to learn more about why this is such a popular beer is certainly something you should consider the next time you visit Amsterdam.
If you book tickets directly online, you will save a couple of Euros rather than purchasing in-person at the ticket office. Online prices are as follows:
- Adults – €16,00
- Child (Age 12-17) – €12,50
- Child (Under 11) – Free
We purchased tickets late morning on our iPhone and showed the PDF tickets at the entrance which was sufficient as they simply scan them and give you a Heineken Experience wristband.
Other Useful Information
The Heineken Experience is open all year round (open 365 days!) and for most of the year opens at 10:30AM daily with final admission at 7:00PM in the evening.
Address: Stadhouderskade 78, 1072 AE Amsterdam, Netherlands
Heineken Brief History
The Heineken dynasty dates back to the mid-19th century, specifically 1864 when Gerard Heineken purchased the Haystack brewery. In 1873, this brewery was renamed Heineken and well…the rest is history!
In 1886, Dr. Elion (a former pupil of Louis Pasteur) developed the Heineken A-Yeast in a local Amsterdam laboratory. To this day, this is still the key ingredient of Heineken beer and helps maintain the unique taste that we all love with this Dutch beer.
Heineken has 115 brewing plants in over 65 countries around the world. Global revenues make Heineken the third largest brewer behind Anheuser-Busch (InBev) and SABMiller.
Later in the tour you can experience the Heineken stables and check out some of the infamous horses that today are primarily used for marketing, along with some of the iconic carts and wagons that were used to transport the beer barrels.
The tour itself takes you through a myriad of exhibits, many of which offers interactive features to involve visitors and help learn about the history and mission of Heineken. Perhaps the highlight of this tour is the ‘Experience’ itself, where visitors stand inside a virtual beer can and taken through the history as a beer particle with moving parts, sound effects along with wind and water to add to the overall experience.
All ages will enjoy this experience but for the beer connoisseurs in the family, don’t worry your time will come!
I particularly enjoyed the Heineken sporting exhibit where you can check out the Champions League history along with capturing a selfie with the Champions League trophy itself. Rugby fans can try their luck at kicking a virtual conversion, or perhaps participating in a scrum (a word of warning, this is not for the faint-hearted).
Heineken Brewing Process
Although the recipe for producing Heinken is top-secret, the actual process of brewing beer is well documented and visitors to the Heineken Experience can watch the various stages that are involved in creating such a magical beer. Heineken is made up of the typical primary ingredients: Barley, Hops, Water and of course the infamous and highly recognized A-Yeast!
The fermentation, filtering and bottling process is much the same as many of the world’s other leading beer manufacturers but it is that secret recipe that sets Heinken apart from its competitors, at least in our opinion that is.
During our tour of the manufacturing plant inside the Heinken Experience, we sampled ‘wort’ which is simply malt mixed with water and well, it’s not the best tasting sample you will have here!
But it’s a great way to see and learn about the various processes that are involved in creating the perfect Heineken beer.
Brewing today is understandably different from the original process in the mid-19th Century. Technology has drastically improved and mass consumption has meant that creating large volumes of beer is a necessity.
But the distinct process is still the same and being able to walk around the original buildings including the old brewery with stained glass windows and the iconic copper beer kettles is an exciting experience.
Tasting and Sampling
By now you are probably wondering when you get to sample the finest Heineken brew. Don’t worry, you have multiple opportunities. In fact, visitors receive three beers throughout the tour.
The first time is in the tasting room where you are handed a small glass and shown the appropriate way to drink Heineken. No sips, just a nice amount that glides down the back of your throat and you can fully experience the tastes of Heineken and that special recipe.
At the end of the self-guided tour, you have the option to drink two pints of Heineken or if you prefer, you can have a soft drink. Your wrist band contains two buttons that can be exchanged for the beers.
Alternatively, you can become a certified Heineken pourer in exchange for your two tokens. Regardless of the option you choose, this is a great way to culminate the Heineken brewery tour.
The Heineken Experience finishes in the store where you can pickup a souvenir glass or other Heineken memento. Earlier in the tour we created our very own Heineken bottle with customized label which we couldn’t resist.
After leaving the Heineken Experience, you can hop on the Heineken canal cruise free of charge, and this will take visitors to the Heineken Brand Store to pick up your free gift (a small Heineken glass) and opportunity to purchase more souvenirs.
Having experienced the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin and the Anheuser-Busch brewery in St. Louis, we were excited to see what Heineken had to offer. We can honestly say that this was our favorite to date, given the self-guided aspect of the tour and also the amount of interactivity and knowledge you can gain from visiting here.
HEINEKEN + A BRIT & A SOUTHERNER = the perfect blend
Amsterdam is more than just canals and bicycles…and the Heineken brewery tour is a great way to find out a little more about this beautiful city! I am sure by now you figured out the answer to the formula above, but for those that are still wondering, I think it’s a pretty obvious response.