The Heineken Experience: A Teetotaller’s Perspective

Three pint-sized glasses of ‘Heineken’, one of the most popular beer brands in the world may bring a smile on the face of a zythophile. However, a teetotaller may not share the same enthusiasm for ‘The Heineken Experience’ in Amsterdam.

I was on a one day visit to Amsterdam on the first Sunday of June. This is a well-known fact that Amsterdam houses the most number of museums per square meters in the world. So, I had to make tough choices between the Rijks Museum, van Gogh Museum, Madame Tussaud’s Museum, the weird and unique sex museum and the Heineken Experience. I was with a friend from Cameroon, Kelvin who was a zythophile and he was quite persuasive about the ‘The Heineken Experience’. I forgot to mention, I am on a three-month internship at a CNRS Lab in France. So, weekends are the only free time to visit places. I tasted red wine for the first time in France and I had never tasted a beer before.

“You are going to taste one of the finest beers in the world, man.” he said. I wondered how can I come up with a comparative analysis when you are about to taste beer for the first time.

“Let’s go to the Annie Frank House and then the Tussaud’s later in the afternoon. The Heineken Experience will be a waste of time and money. You can always buy a can of beer outside.” I tried to dissuade.

“Three pint-sized glasses of beer is not a bad deal, man.”, Kelvin kept on convincing me.

With a bit of hesitation, I succumbed to his persuasion and growing tone of demand to enjoy the experience.  The online ticket to the ancient brewery of Holland cost 16.00 Euros. Fortunately, it saves 2.00 Euros and time too. If you happen to stand in the queue for a 4:00 PM entry into the brewery and it’s 3:55 PM, you will be given a preference and you can just skip the line.  We booked the time slot for 4:30 PM and we were late. So, we had to wait in the queue for the next 40 minutes and we lamented the loss of time.

Heineken Experience Building

The initial part was a bit boring as it dealt with the history of the brewery and the evolution of the brand and shape of beer bottles. I came to know from the guides that the recipe was created way back in1873. Add malted barley to water, stir, add hops and then add the most crucial component yeast ‘A’. Sit back and relax for 28 days and then you have one of the finest beers in the world. Unlike the some of the other brewing industries which implement vertical tanks, the Heineken uses horizontal tanks and maybe that’s a significant factor in giving beer its rich taste.

However, my curiosity and excitement gained momentum as I learned about the brewing process and especially when I experienced ‘The Brew You Ride’. You are heated (by incandescent lights), then stirred (the platform vibrates). The thrill is beyond words and I just roared in delight. The packing of bottles and arranging them in a line as it passes on for final delivery is scintillating and even you can feel the bumps on the road as the beer bottles are taken in cartoons in trucks for delivery. Next, I learned how to drink beer, the three crucial steps. Surrounded by zythophiles, I felt being singled out in the crowd. That was when I tasted the first beer of my life. Tasting your first beer and that too at Heineken Breweries is a thrill in itself. There was an option to customize and pack your own beer bottle.

I enjoyed the simulated pedal ride on the roads of Amsterdam, the simulated Trophy lifting experience and then PS4 gaming. The simulated perfect beer filling challenge added to the fun experience so far.

I never knew that the Heineken Breweries was an empire in itself until I saw the process of brewing and more importantly when I myself was brewed. The journey ended with two glasses of pale lagers at the rooftop bar. I must say that the Heineken experience not only turned me a zythophile but also I had the ‘Heineken’ band with me as a memoir to show off back in India.

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