Talk about an experience! The Heineken Brewery Tour (www.heinekenexperience.com) is something that you should stop by and try. Even for those who are not drinkers the tour is great. The tour is cheap and very informative, followed by intense periods of drinking (and for those who don’t drink, I can guarantee that someone else would love to drink for you). The cost is 11 euros per person and the tour lasts for about an hour and a half or so. You are given five different tokens, four being for drinking and one for redemption of your free gift at the end. You are able to walk through the different brewing methods such as walking through empty brewing barrels, seeing the different ingredients in their different stages and then seeing the final products.
One part of the tour that is great is a ride that they have that explains how the beer became the beer that beer. You have to wait in line until your turn is up, but then they walk you into a room and there are three or four old wooden carriages stationed in front of giant TV screens. You are strapped in and then everyone leaves the room except for the strapped in souls. The carriages then have hydraulics that turn on and the carriages feel like they are really moving. It’s pretty cool. We then moved on to the videophone area where you can send video cards to friends and family from the factory. You can either send pictures or videos. The problem is that the line for the video messages is so freaking long that it is easier to send the picture message. The room is also a creative setup with an arched entrance lined with Heineken bottle caps and a Heineken keg drum set.
After spending almost an hour waiting for the videophone, we finally left and hit up the first bar on the tour, and guess what they serve! The next area is the advertising area. Here there are large comfy benches with TV’s propped above it with constantly looping advertisements that Heineken has played. You may have to wait a while for a chair since a lot of people fall asleep while watching and enjoying the air conditioning. But, after waiting and finally getting a chair, the ads are hilarious. They also explain the "smiling E" on the labels and how the president of the company did this to help enrich the beer and its image. (Look at a bottle next time and you will notice that the "e" is off centered to resemble a smile.)
The final attraction on the tour is the famed drinking den. The designers of the brewery were ingenious in their planning of the layout. They placed the bar right next door to the gift shop. You can get drunk and buy stuff you don’t need. And God knows I did. But back to the bar now. Here hoards of people line up with their remaining three tokens and try to get drinks. The bartenders pour thousands of gallons of beer in the matter of minutes and ask for your token in return for a glass of beer. However, when the place is really crazy, you can just keep walking up to the bar and grab as many as your hands can carry. This is exactly what we did until we were finished in the bar, then received our complimentary (although we paid for it in the admission fee) gift.
You can also ask people who aren’t drinker’s for their extra tokens and they gladly give them away because they have no idea what to do with these tokens otherwise. When you find yourself in Amsterdam, try to take some time and head over to the Heineken Brewery and have yourself a day. And don’t forget, it's better in Amsterdam than anywhere else in the world.