Heineken Experience closed for major renovations (again)

Amsterdam Heineken ExperienceOnly six years after its last major renovation (and year-long closing) the famous Heineken Brewery in Amsterdam has boarded itself up again until June 2008. The Heineken Experience, which is the name the attraction has called itself since it last reopened in 2001, closed on October 29, 2007 for a major multi-million euro revamping.

The new attractions promised include a mini brewery (yay!), multi-media experiences, a tasting bar, and a “stable walk” where visitors can see the famous Heineken horses up close. At the risk of sounding cynical, all this stuff sounds just like the current brewery tour, except for the mini brewery. And the beer they serve at the current tasting bars is already the freshest Heineken in the world, so it’s unclear what the mini brewery will be adding.

In a press release, a spokesman for the Heineken Experience says that 350,000 visitors were welcomed in 2006, and then he went on to say the new version will be bigger and better. The iconic brewer has contracted a California company called BRC Imagination Arts to do the overhaul, and based on that company’s client roster I guess we should be expecting something even more slick and polished than the just-closed version, which already seemed quite slick and polished.

Speaking for myself, I was quite disappointed when the old tour closed down in 2000 because I used to make a point to do the tour (and its infamous all-you-can-drink session at the end) every time I visited Amsterdam. But in 2001 the “Heineken Experience” opened up as more of a full-on corporate shill-fest, but I admit it was pretty cool and definitely still worth doing for new visitors.

The biggest improvement was that instead of only have 2 to 4 scheduled tours each day they could accommodate a constant flow of visitors all day every day. The monstrous price jump from 2 guilders eventually up to 11 euro stung a bit, as did the change to 3 small-beer vouchers instead of the unlimited and timed model for sampling the brew.

Anyway, you can bet your ass that I’ll be checking out the new Heineken Experience late in 2008. I’m actually optimistic that it’s going to be even cooler and I’m sure there will be some beer tasting included in the price. After all, the company’s long-term goal is to get consumers hooked on the beer, not to maximize their instant profit on a crappy tour and make enemies for life. We’ll give you the real scoop here as soon as we can.

What did you think of the recent Heineken Experience that just closed? Had you gone on the legendary previous tour that many of us still rave about?