Beer Voyage — The Heineken Experience in Amsterdam

Heineken Experience

This is the first in a series about bars, breweries and events around the world for beer enthusiasts.

While the Heineken Experience may sound like what a Dutch prison gang might do to you in the yard (“You crossed the line, Fabian. Now we give you the Heineken Experience”), it’s the spiritual headquarters of the famous green bottle beer with a red star. If you are getting a Heineken at a bar or a wedding, it usually means they have nothing but that, Bud and Coors.

It once was the site where the lager was made, but that was 100 years. Now it’s a theme park like museum and “interactive” experience. The interactive part is that you get three drink tokens to have the beer. That’s great, since Heineken is so hard to find in the states.

The building is what you expect from a beer-centric playground. You get a history of the Heineken family and its founder Gerard Adriaan Heineken. Did you know Heineken was the first beer imported into the United States after prohibition ended? Did you know that Heineken is the most exported product in the world? Then you walk through the art gallery of decades of print and television advertising.

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Then you have the ubiquitous process of how beer is made. I’ve been on dozens of these tours and exhibits and they all start the same way. There’s usually some staffer or video presentation that asks, “What are the four ingredients that make up beer?” That’s when I roll my eyes and mutter to myself, “Water, hops, barley and yeast.” What I want to say is, “The fifth ingredient is … love” and then I burst into song.

The one decent aspect the Experience does is spread out your three servings of Heineken through out your visit. Your ticket comes with three tokens that you trade in at the bars spread throughout the building. The Guinness Storehouse makes you wait until the end.

Other things you’ll see are the recreation of the brewing process and equipment from the late 1800s. There’s a loud and bit obnoxious thrill ride where the seats vibrate and tilt slightly while you watch some crazy video. Since Heineken is light in alcohol and the ride pretty tame, you won’t get sick. Towards the end, there are interactive games like “Be the DJ” or “Design Your Own Bottle”. Feel free to skip those so you can get a bunch of green-colored trinkets from the gift shop.

If you get the I Am Amsterdam city card, you’ll get a discount on admission. It’s something you breeze through in 45 minutes. Plus, no kids aloud. Always a plus.

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