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.
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."
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."
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."
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."
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.
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."
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.'"
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.