Mom visited the Heineken Brewery in Amsterdam in 1967 and sent my dad a brilliantly-designed mailable coaster that opened up to reveal a small booklet of photos from the brewery. If you addressed it, they mailed it for you, with a Heineken postmark, no less. (The coaster is at my parents' house; I'll try to scan it and post it here soon. It's a genuinely cool design.)
In the "Readers' Suggestions" section of his Amsterdam chapter, Frommer quotes a correspondent who visited the brewery for its once-daily tour: "While guests are waiting for the tour, they are seated at a very long table, scrubbed white, in a charming tap room with beamed ceiling, and they are served excellent coffee and a variety of cigarettes to please everyone. The tour is very interesting and lasts about an hour and fifteen minutes. Following the tour, you return to the tap room for cheese and Heineken's beer. ... A worthwhile tour, and no fee of any kind."
Let's file this in the every-growing category of "my, how things have changed." Like the Glockenspiel in Munich, this seemed like a case study in how modern tourists--make that modern people in general--demand that their attractions be a bit more whiz-bang, a bit more technologically advanced and interactive than what passed for amusement and entertainment a generation ago.
The first clue that this would be more than a mere self-guided stroll through a brewery came from the site's name: it's no longer merely the Heineken Brewery. It's the Heineken Experience. And "no fee"? Incorrect. That'll be fifteen Euros, please.
The video below shows some of the scenes from the tour. Alas, I don't have any footage of the beer ride (yep), in which you stand on a platform that tilts and lurches as you watch a movie about the brewing process--specifically, what it would be like if you were being brewed. When you're being cooked, heat lamps come on. Sprinklers spray you with water. And when they add the hops, GIANT BEANBAGS drop from the ceiling onto your head!!
Okay, I made up that last part. But I half-expected it, given the intensity (and general weirdness) of the ride.
Anyway, here are just a few of the things we did see at the not-free, over-the-top Heineken Experience:
Oh, and they didn't have any beer coaster postcards, free or otherwise. They did have free e-postcard booth, and Lee and I sent my mom a cheesy note with a cheesy photo of us mugging with a Heineken-green windmill. And they did have big packs of coasters--not the mailable kind--for sale in the gift shop, alongside other items, such as ...