Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Heineken Experience

We missed the "5 years to the month" self-imposed deadline on our 2010 Europe trip recaps, but maybe we'll be able to finish them before the end of the year? (Unlikely, but we can dream.) Time to reminisce a little bit about being back in Amsterdam...

When we recapped the entire Amsterdam portion of our 2010 trip (way back when), we skipped over the Heineken Experience. Apparently at the time, we thought it was "not really about food," but thinking about it now, we're not sure why it wasn't worthy of a post. Not only did the exhibition go through the history of the company and how to make beer, but we also got to drink beer. That's not really very different from a visit to an active brewery, which we would definitely include, so we're jumping back a little bit to briefly show you what we saw on our visit to Heineken.

The Heineken Experience was high on our list of places to visit back then. We liked Heineken beer, so it only seemed logical that we would stop by. It also seemed like a fun way to spend an afternoon learning more about one of the Netherlands' most famous exports, so we headed over after having our delicious burgers at Burgermeester.

The Heineken Experience was in a huge space and there was a lot to see. One of the things we liked the most was the display of old Heineken posters and advertisements. This one was probably one of our favorites, but there were a lot there to see.

There was also a section of the exhibition where they took you through the process of making beer. They told us about all the ingredients and why they're important. A already knew about the process and ingredients that go into making beer, but he still learned quite a bit.

You were also able to go out on to a sample production floor to see all the different steps involved in making the beer and even try doing some of them on your own. For example, you could stir up this giant vat.

They let you try some of the ingredients, like at this station, you could try some wort. Wort is the boiled water and barley which provide the sugars for the alcohol to ferment. The wort itself has a pleasant, subtle sweetness and tastes nothing like the beer it becomes.

You could also learn a lot about the history of Heineken. One of the more interesting parts of the history to me was seeing the evolution of the Heineken bottle and its design. They also showed all the special edition bottles which was pretty cool. (Probably goes hand in hand with my interest in the advertising posters.)

It wasn't all educational. They also had lots of fun stuff. The sections with games were the most crowded, as they had foosball tables and video games and more. On top of all that, there was something they called Brew You, one of those motion rides where you pretended you were the beer ingredients getting turned into beer. There was a lot to do at the Heineken Experience so it's no surprise that we were there for hours.

The end of the exhibition was basically a giant bar where you could drink your Heineken with virtual coasters if you liked. Our general thought about the beer was that it was Heineken just like we had always had, but better. That probably had to do with the freshness of the beer since it didn't have to travel across the ocean.

Once you finished going through all of the "experience," the last stop was of course the gift shop. We picked up a few things and generally just enjoyed browsing around. Some of the stuff was definitely an "only in the Netherlands" type of thing, like these blue Delft mugs. (Never made it to Delft on this trip, but certainly saw the products everywhere!)

Overall, we had a really good time at the Heineken Experience. It was a nice way to spend an afternoon, learning about and tasting some beer. If you have any interest in beer generally or Heineken more specifically, we'd definitely recommend a visit.

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