Well, we finally did it - we visited the Heineken Experience. It was every bit as cheesy as I had imagined BUT we had a lot of fun.
We took Trev's parents there on their last day in Amsterdam. They were all museum-ed out after their days in Paris & Rome, so the Heineken Experience was perfect. Just some light-hearted fun that also involves beer drinking. Admission is €17,00 and that includes a self-guided tour, a tasting mid-tour and two glasses of beer at the end.
The Heineken family started brewing in 1864 when they bought a little brewery called De Hooiberg (The Haystack). Over the years they refined their recipe & techniques, resulting in the Heineken we know today. The brand was expanded internationally by three generations of Heineken's and the museum did a good job of explaining the contributions of each. The size of the Heineken company today is absolutely astounding - they're everywhere!
There isn't any actual beer-production at the Heineken Experience today. The building was one of their original breweries, built in 1867. The copper kettles were still gleaming brightly but brewing there stopped in 1988. During the tour the beer-making process was explained: the magic of water, hops, barley & yeast...
Some things I learned:
- They still have a team of Heineken Horses at the brewery. The team was initially used to deliver beer to cafés, bars and restaurants around Amsterdam.
- Heineken beer is supposed to have a thick layer of head on it - it helps to keep the bubbles in the beer while you're drinking it so that each sip tastes bubbly & refreshing
- Drinking Heineken while keeping the head on the beer means you have to take a biiiiig sip, not dainty little sips (I found out that my Mom-in-law was really good at this, and she doesn't even like beer)
At the end of the tour there was an optional activity where you got a lesson on how to properly pour a glass of Heineken. I had aced the virtual pour, but decided it would be fun to try it out with real beer. The lesson was fun, and you got to pour as many as necessary to get the perfect pour. It was funny to watch the expressions on the faces of all the younger, extreme beer-drinkers when the instructor poured glass after glass down the drain because they weren't perfect. I succeeded on my second attempt, so I got to drink my perfect beer and I got a certificate stating that I'm a "certified pourer" - pretty awesome, right? So now I'll share my pearls of Heineken wisdom - How to pour the perfect glass of Heineken:
- First, open the tap up all the way - I know what you're thinking - that's a waste of beer! but just do it anyways
- Hold the glass at a 45-degree angle with the lip of the glass about 3 cm below the spout and fill it with beer until the liquid gets all the way up to the lip of the glass, then tilt it back to straight and turn the tap off.
- Set the glass down and hold the scraper at a 45 degree angle (towards you) and bring it from the back of the glass to the front.
- Let it settle - the beer should come up to the flat part of the star on the logo.
- There you have it, the perfect pour.
Overall, I had fun at the Heineken Experience and I think it was worth the admission cost. Serious, hard-core beer-lovers might hate it...but if you go into it not expecting a sophisticated overview of Heineken and you're willing to be a bit silly then it's a good time.