Heineken is arguably one of the most well-known beer brands in the world. Not only do many people recognize the green bottle with the red star, but they also drink this beer a lot. However, many people still don’t know where Heineken is from and where it’s brewed. Let us start with a quick answer:
Heineken is mainly brewed in its brewery in Zoeterwoude, The Netherlands. In this factory, Heineken manufactures 720,000 bottles of Heineken beer per hour, which are distributed to more than 160 countries worldwide, including the United States and Canada.
However, that doesn’t fully cover the topic. Below, we’ll first shortly discuss where Heineken was founded and by who. This will also give you a clearer understanding of its origin. Furthermore, we’ll discuss the main brewery of Heineken in detail, not only where it is now but also how the location of its main brewery developed over the years. Finally, we discuss other, smaller breweries that produce Heineken in specific countries. Read on!
Where Was Heineken Founded?
Heineken was founded in 1864 by Gerard Adriaan Heineken when he bought the brewery De Hooiberg (The Haystack) in Amsterdam. It would take Gerard until 1873 to make the brewery production-ready. At the time of the founding, Gerard Adriaan was 22 years old. For this reason, Heineken is a Dutch beer brand founded in the Netherlands.
Where Is Heineken Brewed?
The large majority of Heineken beer, which is classified as an international pale lager and has 142 calories per 12fl. Oz, is brewed in Zoeterwoude, The Netherlands. This is also true for Heineken Zero (which doesn’t taste that good). This is unique for a beer brand since most of the Heineken beer sold worldwide is therefore made in one brewery. A smaller factory is located in ‘S-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands.
Furthermore, Heineken wasn’t always brewed in Zoeterwoude, The Netherlands. As stated before, Heineken was first brewed in the brewery The Haystack in Amsterdam. In 1868 demand for the beer grew very quickly, and Heineken opened another brewery located in Amsterdam.
In 1874 Heineken opened another brewery in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. Rotterdam was chosen as a location because shares of Heineken were owned by another beer company (d’Oranjeboom). This brewery focussed on the development of bottom-fermented / partially fermented beer. They did this because Amstel, another beer company in the Netherlands, was selling this beer and was gaining popularity quickly.
In 1968 the company bought Amstel. They took over their brewery, which was also located in Amsterdam, and at this point, Heineken was brewed in four locations in the Netherlands.
In 1980 Heineken closed the Amstel brewery and moved production to Zoeterwoude and ‘S-Hertogenbosch (another city in the south of the Netherlands). Both these factories are still in use today, although the one in Zoeterwoude is considerably larger than the one in ‘S-Hertogenbosch.
The first Heineken brewery was also closed in 1988 but can still be visited today through ‘The Heineken Experience’, which is a visitor center.
Other Heineken Factories Throughout The World
Many people seem to think that decently tasting Heineken is brewed in many different countries. This is not totally true. Besides its factories in the Netherlands, Heineken has a few smaller factories worldwide. These are located in:
- Edingburgh, Scotland: Heineken operates the Caledonian brewery which also brews original Heineken for the United Kingdom. The brewery was taken-over in 2008 when Heineken bought S&N.
- Tadcaster, England: Heineken also operates the Tadcaster brewery which was also taken-over in 2008 with the acquisition of S&N.
- Taloja, India: In 2013 Heineken gave UB the rights to brew and sell Heineken in India.
- Zaječar, Serbia: Heineken Srbija is fully owned by Heineken and was acquired in July 2008 when Heineken bought sevarl breweries in Serbia.
- Australia: In 2017, Heineken finalized a partnership with Lion Nathan in Australia. This allows Lion to brew and sell Heineken for the Australian market.
- Auckland, New Zealand: In New Zealand Heineken has a partnership with DB Breweries which produces and sells Heineken.
- Costa Rica: Cerveceria de Costa Rica has the rights to brew and sell Heineken in Costa Rica.
- Saint Lucia: WLBL DBC owns the right to brew and sell Heineken in the Carribean.
However, the Heineken produced in these regions is made for their respective markets and isn’t exported.
Besides the breweries where Heineken is made, The Heineken Company owns more than 300 beer brands and has around 167 different beer brands in its portfolio that are sold in 190 countries worldwide. However, these factories mainly focus on the production of locally popular beers. They don’t make the Heineken beer.
This is why some people mistakenly think that Heineken is brewed in many countries worldwide. Instead, the brewery in Zoeterwoude does most of the work, supported by some local breweries. All other breweries focus on brands that Heineken has bought over the years.
How Is Heineken Exported To The Rest Of The World?
Since most Heineken is made in Zoeterwoude, including the Heineken sold in the USA, let’s see how a bottle of beer makes its way to the other side of the globe.
After being brewed in Zoeterwoude, the bottles are stored in containers. In the Netherlands, Heineken transfers its beer by inland waterways. This way, they don’t have to use trucks. Heineken ships around 2,5 million bottles per day this way. From there brewery, the Heineken bottles are exported to the Port of Rotterdam, 100 kilometers away by the river.
From the Port of Rotterdam, the process becomes straightforward. The containers are put on ships that make their way to the rest of the world. This is the exact way the first bottles of Heineken were shipped to the New York harbor in 1933, right after the prohibition.
In the USA, Heineken USA has outsourced distribution of its Heineken beer to distributors. They have numerous different distributors which generally operate on a state level.
P.S. did you know you only need five Heineken to get drunk? Read more about that here!