In 1864, a young entrepreneur named Gerard Adriaan Heineken acquired money from his wealthy mother so he could purchase and renovate ‘De Hooiberg’ (The Haystack), an old brewery that stood in the centre of Amsterdam. Within a few years, the building on Stadhouderskade and Ferdinand Bolstraat was revitalized and opened its doors on May 17, 1867, brewing a mix of barley malt, choice hops and pure water, which was stamped with its creator’s family name—the first batch of Heineken lager.
During its early years, Heineken made serious strides forward in the capital of the Netherlands. A second plant was quickly opened in Rotterdam to keep up with demand, and by 1887 the company had proven its craftsmanship in beer brewing by perfecting the switch from traditional top fermentation to implementing the use of the newly discovered Bavarian method of bottom-fermenting ‘A-yeast’ (an ingredient used to this day). Needless to say, the taste was perfected.
At the 1889 World’s Fair in Paris, the quality of Gerard’s beer was recognized outside of the Netherlands, when Heineken was awarded the prestigious Diplome de Grand Prix (something still mentioned on Heineken’s trademark labels today).
By the end of the 19th century, Heineken had expanded beyond the borders of the Netherlands and was being exported to France and the Dutch East Indies. And just three days after Prohibition in the United States ended in 1933, Heineken became the first foreign beer to land on American soil.