Amsterdam’s Heineken Experience is the best interactive adult playground since Warsaw’s Chopin Museum.
Put Amsterdam in your diary, quickly. You know you have arrived somewhere special when you fly into Schiphol airport and see the cleaners’ trolleys decorated with big photographs of tulips…
Reserve your tickets for Heineken Experience beforehand, on http://www.heinekenexperience.com (it is open daily, 11 am to seven pm).
The interior of the four-floor Stadhouderskade building, which reopened 2008, is original brick and plaster, with lots of bright Heineken green. First thing we all did was head for Brew-U, a squash-court-sized room with a tiered floor.
You stand exact, in military style, on the tiers, and the whole floor shakes and rolls in unison to what is happening on the full-wall screen in front of you.
This is Adrian taking you through the brewing of beer… hops are mixed with water and stored and so on. At several appropriate moments water comes down from the ceiling, at another point bubbles waft down.
You seem to twist and turn and ’18 months’ later (minutes later, actually) you, the beer are now in bottles, and you are passed along assembly lines, three abreast down to one abreast.
Clank clank loudly as you filter into one line, an even bigger clank as your cap is put on. Now boxed, you twist and turn again, ready for delivery…
And then it is time, really and in reality, to go to a tasting room, where young beer specialists pour the brew, explaining the froth (head) and show you how to drink.
You can go on to many other rooms to track the journey of the global company, started here by Gerard Adriaan Heineken in 1864. You can see its growth… you can take a stable walk to learn about the shire horses who made deliveries.
There is a music area, and there is a cavernous brasserie, where around 500 of us sat at long trestle-type tables for a great dinner cooked by Richard van Oostenbrugge from Heineken’s own hotel, Hotel de L’Europe (Smoked salmon ‘label rouge’ – in honour of Heineken’s brand – with salmon eggs and horseradish, Roast loin of Aberdeen Angus veal, Forest fruits mousse).
And then the gal was finally able to get back home, to bed. The Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum and so much else that wonderful Amsterdam has to offer may have to wait for another luxury travel trip here.