So you’re in Amsterdam for a weekend, and you’re a fan of beer. Is the Heineken Experience worth it?
For anyone who doesn’t know Heineken is an old brewery in Amsterdam, founded in 1864. It’s famous for using a very unique strain of yeast that is still descendant from the batch that was first used as well as its unique green bottles.
The Heineken Experience gets to be extremely busy, I was there more than half an hour before it opened and there was already people waiting to line up. You can buy tickets online, which is probably the best thing to do if you’re committed to going, just to be sure you can get in.
The experience starts off with at the history of Heineken, talking about the family legacy, and how the company has expanded over the years. There’s a room dedicated to the medals that the beer has won over the years, and awards given to its directors. This was the least enjoyable part of the tour, there was a lot of people in a small space and it was almost one long line from the ticket desk through these early exhibits.
After the history the lines opened up a lot more. There was a nice little section on how beer is made, and a chance to smell and see some malt and hops. Little spoiler alert to everyone reading, don’t eat hops. I’ve done that before and it’s not an enjoyable experience; hops belong in your beer, not in your mouth. Showing how beer is made is a standard element in breweries, but what was unique was a chance to taste wort, one of the stages of beer production. Shockingly this isn’t super tasty, and it’s a weird mix of sweet and bitter: there’s a reason why people decided to let it keep going all the way to beer.
There was a bit of a tasting room, where you were taught how to properly drink a beer. It was something I didn’t think I would need much of an education in but it was interesting, and the guy running this session was very charismatic, so there was some fun involved.
The bar to collect your free samples was a bit of a let down, especially compared to the nice views you’re able to get at the Guinness brewery. Leading up to the bar the tour also takes an odd turn and goes into all the ways that Heineken is marketing itself to a younger audience; sponsoring music festivals and advertising with soccer teams, to name two.
Overall this was an interesting experience. If you’re a huge fan of Heineken of course you should go, but if you’ve ever done anything like this before then it’s probably not worth it. The lines are long, it’s not exactly cheap and there isn’t much that’s new. If you’re looking for a cheaper Heineken themed alternative then I recommend watching the documentary The Magic of Heineken, which takes a look at the beer’s history as well as some if its interesting modern day business practices.
Thanks for reading some more travel stories and look forward to another Scotch review coming out next week!