CNET gets its Heine in gear at the 'Heineken Experience' (photos)

Road Trip 2011: There are plenty of things associated with Amsterdam, some wholesome and some not so much. But one thing most people know is that the Dutch capital is home to one of the world's most popular brands of beer.

Daniel Terdiman
Daniel Terdiman is a senior writer at CNET News covering Twitter, Net culture, and everything in between.
Daniel Terdiman
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Heineken Brouwerij

AMSTERDAM--Whether or not you drink it, there's no doubting that Heineken is one of the world's most popular brands of beer. And for many of the people who travel to the Dutch capital, their trip is not complete without a visit to what is now known as the Heineken Experience.

This august building used to house the Heineken brewery--the main brewery is now located elsewhere--but the company has maintained it as a museum and homage to its 147 years of beer-making.

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Gerard Adriaan Heineken

According to information provided by the Heineken Experience, "Gerard Adriaan Heineken founded Heineken & Co. on [February 15, 1864] at the young age of 22. Thus began a proud family tradition of brewing premium-quality beer. Not only did Adriaan express a great deal of fortitude and entrepreneurship in founding the Heineken Brewery, he did it with an overwhelming devotion to provide the finest product possible."

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Bierbrouwerij Maatschappij

Throughout the old Heineken brewery, you can see old posters and signage for the brand.

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Storage silos

This is one of 15 large storage silos that are located in the old Heineken brewery and that are as much as 65 feet tall. "They were used to store malted barley for crafting and brewing Heineken," a sign about the silos reads. "Historically, the barley arrived by ship via the canal across the street and was transferred to the top of the building directly into these historic silos. The brewing process went on for 24 hours a day with up to six brews a day."

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Original kettle

This is one of the four original Heineken brewery copper kettles. They were installed in 1913, and in 1956, Heineken added four additional kettles.

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New copper kettles

These are the four additional copper kettles Heineken installed in 1956.

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Here we see an example of wort used in the brewing of Heineken beer. It is water and barley that is heated and filtered.

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Fermentation tank

This is a stainless steel fermentation tank that was installed in the Heineken brewery in the 1960s. "The new beer was transferred into these tanks along with Heineken's famous 'A' yeast," reads a sign about the tanks, "and allowed to ferment for up to three weeks before it was bottled."

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19th century ceramic tankard

This is a ceramic tankard from the late 19th century, as seen at the Heineken Experience in Amsterdam.

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Horse cart

According to the Heineken Experience, "Horses have always been a significant part of Heineken.... From the founding of the Heineken Brewery in 1864 until the beginning of the 1960s, barrels of beer were delivered to local cafes and establishments in Amsterdam by horse and cart."

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Freddy the horse

This is Freddy, one of the horses that Heineken still keeps in a stable inside its old brewery.

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This is a classic harness that was used with the horses that pulled carts full of Heineken around Amsterdam.

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1939 bottle

This Heineken bottle was a new design for the Dutch market in 1939.

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Four Heineken bottles

These are four Heineken bottles that were introduced over the years. On the left is the first bottle used for export to the United States, in 1933. Second from left is the "Apollinaris" bottle, from 1948, which was the same kind used when Heineken first bottled its own beer, starting in 1931 (previously, bottling had been done by independent companies). Second from the right is the company's general export bottle, from 1970. And on the right is the first Heineken longneck bottle, from 1996.

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Price list

This is a price list from the Die Port van Cleve Hotel in Amsterdam from the early 1900s, showing a list of Heineken beers.

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WOBO bottles

According to a sign at the Heineken Experience, "After seeing the poverty on the island of Curacao in 1960, Alfred Heineken came up with a solution for sustainable housing. He invited acclaimed Dutch architect John Habraken to design the World Bottle, or 'Wobo,' as it soon became known. Freddy [Heineken] referred to it as a 'brick that holds beer.' The empty Wobo could be used to build affordable houses.

"The Heineken Wobo went through several design processes with one aim in mind--to design a bottle that was interlocking and self-aligning. A final design was achieved and two sizes--350 and 500mm--were manufactured. The bottle, however, never went beyond a prototype."

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Heineken logos

These are several Heineken logos from the company's 147-year-long history.

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The red star

According to Heineken, the red star featured on all the company's beer labels can be traced back to the 14th century "and is one of the most ancient and mysterious symbols in the history of beer making. It is said that medieval brewers hung the enduring symbol of the star over their vats to protect the brew and guarantee its quality. The protective powers of the five-point star symbolized earth, fire, wind, and water, with the fifth star point representing the unknown element that the brewers believed was 'magic.'"

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Bottle wash

Although Heineken is no longer brewed in the old Heineken brewery that now houses the Heineken Experience, there is a scaled down bottling system that is used to demonstrate the process.

This is the first step, the bottle wash.

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Bottle test and bottle filling

Next comes a bottle test, and then the filling of the bottles.

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Bottle crowning

After that, the caps are added, or the bottles are "crowned."

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Label application

Next, the Heineken labels are added.

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Final inspection

Finally, the bottles are inspected, and then sent off for packaging.

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Paco and Icone

Heineken has been making beer since 1864, and has used a lot of different kinds of bottles. These are two of the most unusual, and newest: The Paco, from 2004, which was "designed for a fun night out on the town...an award-winning, minimalist, and sleek molded aluminum design," and the Icone, from 2006, made from aluminum materials and designed by France's Ora-Ito.

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Heineken Experience

This is Heineken Experience signage mounted over the door to the old Heineken brewery in Amsterdam.

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