Heineken. Europe’s largest multinational brewery was founded by Gerard Adriaan Heineken in Amsterdam, with a major lager production facility in Zoeterwoude, close to Leiden, in the Netherlands. In 1864, Gerard Heineken purchased “Den Hoybergh” (“the haystack”) brewery that had been operating in the center of Amsterdam since 1592, and renamed it Heineken’s in 1873. In 1874 he opened a second brewery in Rotterdam (which closed in 1968). In 1886 Louis Pasteur student Dr H. Elion succeeded in isolating the A-yeast strain in a Heineken laboratory that is still used in production to this day. A second Amsterdam brewery located on the Stadhouderskade was built to replace Den Hoybergh in 1886. The new brewery switched over to lager production in 1887 and installed refrigeration in 1888. Brewing there ceased in 1988 and after 3 years of renovation the site reopened as the Heineken Reception and Information Center. It was renamed the Heineken Experience in 2001 and after a year of renovation and expansion it reopened to visitors in November of 2008.

In 1929 Heineken starting bottling all of its beer at the brewery, giving the company better control of hygiene and quality. Clever timing ensured that in 1933, only 3 days after the repeal of prohibition in America, the first shipment of Heineken pilsner arrived in New York harbor. (Today it is America’s second most popular import beer, after Corona.) Around this time Heineken decided to change its strategy from being a large national brewery to becoming a multinational and when Freddy Heineken started his career in 1942 the stage was set for major changes. In the 1950s the importance of the technical quality of the beer moved to the background and the marketing team began to emphasize the brand instead of the beer. This is not to say that technical advances were ignored—for instance, replacement of all wooden kegs by stainless steel versions began in 1951.

In 1962 Heineken’s became “Heineken,” replacing “pilsner” as the prominent text on the label. The logo was also revamped by changing the red star to white, accenting the text by changing it to lower case, tilting the second “e” to make it appear to “smile,” and placing Heineken on a black banner. To generations of Americans, Heineken’s distinctive green bottle became a symbol of “imported quality.” Ironically the green bottle also has another effect: It can allow the beer to acquire a “lightstruck” (or, colloquially, “skunked”) aroma far more easily than does a brown bottle, which offers better protection from harmful ultraviolet wavelengths of light. See lightstruck.

Heineken opened what is now its special beer production brewery in Den Bosch in 1958 and its major production facility in Zoeterwoude in 1975. It stopped production at its subsidiary Amstel Brewery in 1980 and then demolished it to make way for affordable housing in 1982. See amstel brewery. Heineken has used the practice of takeover and closure of competing brewers to increase its national market share since the end of World War I. Examples include ’t Haantje in Amsterdam (1918), Griffioen in Silvolde (1919), De Zwarte Ruiter in Maasticht, Schaepman in Zwolle and Rutten’s in Amsterdam (1920), De Kroon in Arnhem (1921), Marres in Maastricht (1923), Koninklijke Nederlandsche Beiersch in Amsterdam (1926), Ceres in Maastricht (1931), and Twentsche Stoom Beiersch in Almelo (1934). After the end of World War II many small southern Dutch breweries were offered lucrative Heineken distributorships if they would cease their brewing activities. Faced with the prospect of having to invest heavily to modernize their breweries in an uncertain market, many accepted the offer of a steady income, resulting in a pilsner monoculture in the Netherlands. Van Vollenhoven in Amsterdam (1949), Sint Servatius in Maastricht, and Vullinghs in Sevenum (1952) are typical examples. The Royal Brand’s brewery in Wijlre is an exception to the rule. After the takeover in 1989 a great deal of investment, marketing, and distribution via the Heineken network has resulted in Brand growing to become Heineken’s third national brand. International takeovers have included the Leopold brewery in Brussels, Belgium (1927), Murphy’s brewery in Ireland (1983), Komarom brewery in Hungary (1991), French brewery Francaise de Brasserie (1993), Belgian brewer De Smedt (renamed Affligem Brewery BDS) in 2001, and Austrian brewery group Brau Beteiligungs Aktiengesellschaft, now called Brau Union Ag, in 2003 (in Heineken’s largest takeover to date).

Production takes place in more than 125 breweries in seventy countries. Heineken NV is active in more than 170 countries. With a total beer volume of 107 million barrels (125.8 million hectoliters) in 2008, Heineken is one of the world’s largest brewers. Only Anheuser-Busch InBev and SABMiller brew more beer. See anheuser-buschinbev and sabmiller. Heineken and their subsidiaries produce beer in more than 125 breweries in seventy countries, employ almost 60,000, and sell at least 50% of their beer within the European Union. Some of the more than 200 brand names include 33 Export, Cruz Campo, Zywiec, Birra Moretti, Murphy’s, and Star. Heineken produces three products: Heineken Pilsener, Heineken Tarwebok (wheat bock), called Special Dark in America, and Oud Bruin, a dark and sweet low alcohol lager brewed only for the Dutch market.

See also netherlands, the.