When Gerard Heineken purchased ‘De Hooiberg’ brewery in 1864, Amsterdam was an impoverished city. This purchase would eventually lead to a revitalisation of the city, and would be influential in the foundation of modern Amsterdam.
From 7th February to 11th May 2014, Stadsarchief Amsterdam, located at Vijzelstraat 32 is holding an exhibition exploring the life Gerard Adriaan Heineken 1841-1893). This exhibition covers the foundation of the Heineken brewery, the expansion into one of the largest breweries, and also the impact that this had on revitalising the city of Amsterdam.
Heineken was just 22 when he purchased ‘De Hooiberg’ brewery in 1864. Believing it to be a great deal, he wrote a letter to his wealthy mother to convince her to purchase the brewery for him. At the time it cost the equivalent of 21.80 euros. Heineken was insistent that he purchase the whole company, as he wanted to be in full control of the quality. ‘De Hooiberg’ (meaning ‘The Haystack’) had been established 300 years earlier, and was one of Amsterdam’s largest breweries. In 1868 Heineken built a new brewery on this site, on what was then the fringe of the city. This is now Stadhouderskade 78. A stop animation of this initial part of his life can be viewed at this link.
Heineken switched production from the traditional top fermentation method, to the Bavarian method of bottom fermentation. This method had not previously been used in the region, and produced a clearer and more pure beer. This came to be called ‘The Gentleman’s beer’. Sales of this beer were successful and it was incredibly popular. This led to more business in the Nightlife of Amsterdam, and this money flowed into the city of Amsterdam as well. However, Heineken was also concerned with other issues in the city of Amsterdam, such as the arts and working towards improving housing for workers.
Due to increasing consumer demand, in 1868 a second brewery was built in Amsterdam at Buitensingel. This led to further investment and employment in the city of Amsterdam. In 1873, the name of the brewery was officially changed from ‘De Hooiberg’ to Heineken. By the time of his death in 1893, this had become one of the largest and most important breweries in the Netherlands. The company would eventually go on to operate in over 70 countries, and become the number one brewer in Europe and the third largest in the world. The original Heineken brewery was closed in 1988, however this site can still be visited as the ‘Heineken Experience‘ at Stadhouderskade 78 in Amsterdam. This site has seen almost 400 years of brewing history, and was an influential site in the birth of one of the most successful beers of all time.
Stadsarchief Amsterdam is presenting an interesting exhibition. It offers a fascinating insight into a man that is considered one of the founders of Amsterdam. There is a lot of information available about his involvement in the foundation of the Heineken brewery and growth, yet not much is known about his private life. This exhibition offers a glimpse into the mind of an innovator and an entrepreneur, and one of the most successful businessmen of all time. Heineken succeeded where so many others failed, in creating a sustainable product and a strong brand that has stood the test of time.
Stadsarchief Amsterdam is open Tuesday to Friday 10am to 5pm, Saturday and Sunday 12pm to 5pm, and is closed on Mondays and the King’s Day public holiday (Saturday 26th April).
Take a look inside the former Heineken brewery and combine it with an unforgettable hour-long cruise! Get your tickets here and save €4.