Did you know that beer is mostly made of water? Neither did I! I learned a lot about the beer brewing process at the “Heineken Experience” in Amsterdam. Housed in the original Heineken brewery, the museum details the history of the company as well as their beer making process. Heineken contains 4 ingredients: water, barley, hops and yeast. Their beer is 92% water, most of which evaporates during the fermentation process. Barley & water are combined and after the mixture is heated and filtered, it forms a sweet mixture called wort. The higher the temperature at which barley is roasted, the darker the beer. Heineken has a light “gold” color due to the barley being roasted at a lower temperature. Hops are then added to the wort to give it a more bitter taste, followed by adding the Heineken special “A” yeast which aids in the fermenting process. Adding yeast to the beer mixture transforms the sugar into alcohol and carbon dioxide. Fermentation then takes 28 days. This is the normal length of time for beer fermentation. For other spirits, the fermenting and aging process can take up to 5 years or longer.
After I took the tour, I was able to sample the Dutch beer and learned the proper way to drink beer. Yes, there is a proper way to drink beer. Have you ever looked at freshly poured glass of beer? You should be able to see the bubbles rising to the top. This is carbon dioxide, much like what you’d find in soft drinks. This carbon dioxide is trapped by the foam at the top of the beer. It keeps your beer from going flat quickly.
Some people don’t like beer because of the bitter taste it has after they’ve taken a small sip. However, because the foam at the top is mostly made of hops, that small sip has a bitter taste. In order to properly taste a beer, you have to take bigger sips to taste the sweeter water/barley mixture at the bottom. Who knew? I must admit, I am not the biggest beer fan; however, after taking a big sip instead of a small one, I noticed a difference in taste.
Once the tour wrapped up, I was able to customize my own beer for 6 Euros. I definitely recommend going to the “Heineken Experience” if you’re in Amsterdam and curious about the beer brewing process. It’s worth the 15 Euro admission fee.
Photo Credit: Ashlee Tuck