Historic Beer Birthday: Alfred Heineken

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Today is the birthday of Alfred “Freddy” Heineken (November 4, 1923-January 3, 2002). “He was the grandson of Gerard Adriaan Heineken, who was the founder of the brewery Heineken” in 1864. Under his management, it became a global company and today one of the largest breweries in the world.

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He entered the service of the Heineken company – which by then was no longer owned by the family – on June 1, 1941 and bought back stock several years later, to ensure the family controlled the company again. He created the Heineken Holding that owned 50.005% of Heineken International; he personally held a majority stake in Heineken Holding. By the time of his resignation as chairman of the board in 1989 he had transformed Heineken from a brand that was known chiefly in the Netherlands to a brand that is currently famous worldwide.

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Heineken married Lucille Cummins, an American from a Kentucky family of bourbon whiskey distillers. Heineken died unexpectedly from pneumonia on January 3, 2002 at the age of seventy-eight in his home in Noordwijk. The businessman died around 6pm in the presence of his immediate family, including his daughter Charlene de Carvalho-Heineken. Heineken struggled for some time with deteriorating health, in 1999 he suffered a mild stroke but recovered. Shortly before his death he broke his arm in a fall. Heineken was buried at the General Cemetery in Noordwijk. Heineken’s daughter, Charlene de Carvalho-Heineken, inherited his fortune. Heineken was a member of the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD).

One dark period of life occurred when he was kidnapped and held for ransom in 1983.

Freddy Heineken and his driver Ab Doderer were kidnapped in 1983 and released on a ransom of 35 million Dutch guilders (about 16 million Euros). The kidnappers Cor van Hout, Willem Holleeder, Jan Boelaard, Frans Meijer, and Martin Erkamps, were eventually caught and served prison terms. Before being extradited, Van Hout and Holleeder stayed for more than three years in France, first on the run, then in prison, and then, awaiting a change of the extradition treaty, under house arrest, and finally in prison again. Meijer escaped and lived in Paraguay for years, until he was discovered by Peter R. de Vries and imprisoned there. In 2003, Meijer halted resisting his extradition to the Netherlands, and was transferred to a Dutch prison to serve the last part of his term.

There have been two films about the incident, one in the Netherlands starring Rutger Hauer, and a more recent one starring Anthony Hopkins, entitled “Kidnapping Mr. Heineken , released in 2015.

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Here’s his obituary from the New York Times:

Alfred Henry Heineken, who built an Amsterdam brewer into one of the world’s biggest beer companies, died on Thursday at his home in the Dutch coastal town of Noordwijk. He was 78 and died of pneumonia.

Mr. Heineken, who was known as Freddy, created the green bottle that helped Heineken become synonymous with imported beer in the United States. Aided by the company’s marketing, Heineken was the best-selling import in the United States for many years before it was dethroned by Corona of Mexico in 1998.

Born in Amsterdam in 1923, Mr. Heineken began working for his family’s brewing company at the age of 18, during World War II. The company was started in 1863 by his grandfather Gerard Heineken, who persuaded his mother to back him financially by arguing that there would be fewer displays of drunken behavior on the streets if the Dutch were able to drink a good beer instead of gin.

His grandson Freddy would prove himself equally gifted in the art of persuasion, directing Heineken’s advertising and marketing efforts. ”Had I not been a beer brewer I would have become an advertising man,” he once said.

Shortly after the war, he went to New York and walked the streets of Manhattan presenting samples of Heineken to bartenders. His two years in New York changed Mr. Heineken’s life. Not only did he learn about the export market that would make the company one of the three global giants in beer — behind Anheuser-Busch of the United States and neck-to-neck with Interbrew of Belgium — he also found the partner of his life. In 1948, he married Lucille Cummins, the daughter of a whiskey-making family in Kentucky.

In addition to his wife, Mr. Heineken is survived by his daughter, Charlene, and five grandchildren. Family members continue to control Heineken Holding, which owns 50.1 percent of the brewing company, Heineken N.V.

Freddy Heineken began working at the company’s headquarters in Amsterdam in 1951, and set up its advertising department. He made Heineken’s brand color a bright green and oversaw the bottle’s distinctive design, with the red star logo and a black banner bearing the Heineken name. ”I don’t sell beer, I sell warmth” was his motto.

His talents were not limited to sales and marketing. In 1954, he succeeded in regaining the family’s controlling interest in the brewing company, which his father had sold in 1942.

From 1971 to 1989, Mr. Heineken served as chairman of Heineken, setting the company’s long-term strategy nearly single-handedly. Under his leadership, Heineken grew into a global powerhouse.

Heineken, which says it was the first brewer to export to the United States after Prohibition, had particularly strong growth in the American market. In 1960, the company sold a million cases of beer in the United States; 40 years later, the company sold more than 53 million cases, according to Impact, a beverage industry publication.

The company acquired a Dutch rival, Amstel, in 1968, and Murphy’s of Cork, Ireland, a brewer of stout, in 1970. Today, Heineken has 110 breweries in more than 50 countries. Its beer can be found in more than 170 countries.

Mr. Heineken became one of the wealthiest men in Europe and enjoyed near royalty status in the Netherlands.

But his life was turned upside down in November 1983, when he and his chauffeur were kidnapped. The two men were chained to neighboring concrete cells for three weeks before the Dutch police raided a warehouse in Amsterdam and freed them. The rescue came after a ransom, said to be more than $10 million, was paid.

Afterward, Mr. Heineken limited his public appearances and became very protective of his family’s private life. In 1989, he relinquished his control of the brewing company but he continued to play a role in its running right up to his death.

In November, he resigned as chairman of the holding company that owns a majority stake in Heineken N.V. His daughter, Charlene, was supposed to take over some of Mr. Heineken’s responsibilities at a shareholders meeting in April, but will now do so immediately, the company said. His family will retain its majority ownership of the company.

Outside of brewing, Mr. Heineken played an active role in promoting science and the arts. In 1964, in honor of his father, he founded the Dr. H. P. Heineken Foundation, which awards cash prizes for pioneering work in biochemistry and biophysics. In the 1980’s, Mr. Heineken started a second foundation in his own name that awards cash prizes to the sciences and the arts.

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Historic Beer Birthday: Antonie van Leeuwenhoek

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Today is the birthday of Antonie van Leeuwenhoek (October 24, 1632–August 26, 1723). He “was a Dutch tradesman and scientist, and is commonly known as ‘the Father of Microbiology.'” Apropos of nothing, “his mother, Margaretha (Bel van den Berch), came from a well-to-do brewer’s family.” Despite hi family ties, van Leeuwenhoek didn’t discover anything specifically useful to the brewing industry, but he did find that there was life pretty much everywhere he looked, using his microscope, including the “microscope—tiny “animalcules,” including yeast cells, which he described for the first time” in 1674-80.” But he laid the groundwork for later scientists to figure how exactly yeast worked. As Brian Hunt wrote in the entry for “infection” in the “The Oxford Companion to Beer,” that “the existence of yeast as a microbe was only discovered in 1674 by Antonie van Leeuwenhoek, the inventor of the modern microscope.” Or as Sylvie Van Zandycke, PhD, put it. “The yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae was used for thousands of years in the fermentation of alcoholic beverages before anyone realized it! The Dutch scientist, Anton Van Leeuwenhoek observed the mighty cells for the first time under the microscope in 1680.”

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Here’s a short biography, from the Science Museum Brought to Life:

Leeuwenhoek was born in Delft in the Netherlands, to a family of brewers. He is known for his highly accurate observations using microscopes.

Leeuwenhoek worked as a draper, or fabric merchant. In his work he used magnifying glasses to look at the quality of fabric. After reading natural scientist Robert Hooke’s highly popular study of the microscopic world, called Micrographia (1665), he decided to use magnifying lenses to examine the natural world. Leeuwenhoek began to make lenses and made observations with the microscopes he produced. In total he made over 500 such microscopes, some of which allowed him to see objects magnified up to 200 times.

These were not the first microscopes, but Leeuwenhoek became famous for his ability to observe and reproduce what was seen under the microscope. He hired an illustrator who reproduced the things Leeuwenhoek saw.

In 1673 he began corresponding with the Royal Society of London, which had just formed. Leeuwenhoek made some of the first observations of blood cells, many microscopic animals, and living bacteria, which he described as ‘many very little living animalcules’. In 1680 his work was recognised with membership of the Royal Society – although he never attended a meeting, remaining all his life in Delft.

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Leeuwenhoek with His Microscope, by Ernest Board (1877–1934)

Here’s a story from Gizmodo, by Esther Inglis-Arkell, explaining Antonie van Leeuwenhoek’s role and iviting readers to Meet The First Man To Put Beer Under A Microscope:

The man in the picture [the same one at the top of this post] is considered the “Father of Microbiology.” He helped to discover and sketch microorganisms. When he turned his microscope on beer, he saw some of the most useful microorganisms in the world — but he failed to recognize them.

This man above is Anton van Leeuwenhoek, and he’s wearing an absolutely bitchin’ coat because he was a draper by trade. In fact, he draped so successfully that he managed to indulge his hobbies as he got older, one of which was lens making. Anton spent his days making powerful microscopes and sketching the objects he put in front of them. He discovered many things, the most interesting of which were animalcules, things that looked like tiny little animals. His sketches and descriptions, as well as his microscopes, jumpstarted the field of microbiology.

It wasn’t long before he turned his lens on beer in the process of brewing. It was 1680 when he first trained his lens on a droplet of beer. At the time, no one knew what it was that made hops, barley, and water turn into beer. Although they knew of yeast as a cloudy substance that appeared in beer after it spent some time fermenting, they were entirely ignorant of what it did; to the point where there were laws against using anything except barley, hops, and water in the beer-making process. Naturally, as soon as Anton looked at brewing beer he saw little circular blobs. He saw the way they aggregated into larger groups. He saw the way that they produced bubbles of what he thought was “air,” and floated to the surface.

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Despite his obsession with microorganisms, he utterly failed to recognize them as life. These blobs, he believed, had come loose from flour. They aggregated into groups of six as part of a chemical process. Anton was fascinated by these groups of flour globs. He modeled them in wax, because he wanted to figure out the ways six globs could stick together while all being visible from above. This is his sketch of his models.

It took another 150 years before Charles Canard-Latour figured out that the “air” was carbon dioxide and the sextets of blobs hadn’t aggregated together, they’d grown. Archaeologists believe that beer was probably first brewed around 3000 BC. That means that we used an organism for nearly 5,000 years before we realized it even existed.

Although van Leeuwenhoek did write about the wood used in beer barrels:

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Beer Birthday: Ron Pattinson

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Today is the 60th birthday of Ron Pattinson — the Big 6-0 — a brewing historian who writes online at Shut Up About Barclay Perkins. Ron lives in Amsterdam but is obsessed with the British brewery Barclay Perkins, which is what the title of his blog refers to. I have finally had the pleasure of meeting Ron in person, when we were both guests of Carlsberg for a press trip to Copenhagen earlier this year. A few years ago, Lew Bryson had a chance to go drinking with Ron, too. Join me in wishing Ron a very happy birthday.

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Me and Ron at a bar in Copenhagen.

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In that same bar, with (clockwise from lower left) Martyn Cornell, Jeff Alworth, Evan Rail, me, Stephen Beaumont, Pete Brown, Stan Hieronymus and Ron.

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Ron, talking with Jeff Bell and Mark Dredge.

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Leaving Copenhagen; Pete Brown, Ron, Jeff Bell, Stephen Beaumont and Stan Hieronymus.

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Ron while drinking with Lew Bryson.

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At Pretty Things 1901: Jim Barnes, Dann Paquette (Pretty Things), Jay Sullivan (Cambridge Brewing) and Ron Pattinson.

Beer Birthday: Theo Flissebaalje

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Today is the 67th birthday of Theo Flissebaalje. Theo’s from the Netherlands, and co-founded StiBON, and he’s also active in the beer consumer organization PINT. He’s also on the international judging circuit. I first met him judging in Tokyo, Japan, but have also judged with him in Europe and America, as well. Join me in wishing Theo a very happy birthday.

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Theo judging in Tokyo in

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Through a window in Antwerp during lunch for the Brussels Beer Challenge in 2015, that’s Theo on the far right.

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Agostino Arioli, from Birrificio Italiano, with Theo, also in Japan in 2013.

Historic Beer Birthday: Emile A.H. Seipgens

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Today is the birthday of Emile Anton Hubert Seipgens (August 16, 1837-June 25, 1896). Seipgens was born in Roermond, the Netherlands. He was the son of a brewer, and after school and some failed jobs, joined his father at the brewery in 1856. By 1859, he was running the brewery along with his brother. But apparently he wasn’t happy there, and in 1874 decided to pursue his dream of becoming a writer. Throughout his life, he wrote poetry, novels, plays and much more.

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Here’s a translated biography of his literary career, from Literary Zutphen:

Emile (Anton Hubert) Seipgens, born August 16, 1837 in Roermond, from 1876 until 1883 teacher of German at the Rijks HBS in Zutphen. He founded a literary reading companion for his disciples and was a member of the “Circle of scientific maintenance. He lived Nieuwstad A128-2. Seipgens was an outspoken Limburg author. His work – theater, novels and novellas village – is invariably located in Limburg, and sometimes – his songs – even written in Limburg dialect. Some of his best known and most read titles he wrote in his Zutphense period: The chaplain Bardelo (1880), from Limburg. Novellas and Sketches (1881). In this period made ​​Seipgens, who was first trained to be a priest, then was brewer, then teacher, to eventually become a writer, definitively separated from the Catholic Church. He started on the assembly line to write stories, which he published in magazines such as The Guide , Netherlands and Elsevier . One of those stories, Rooien Hannes , had worked to folk drama and staged by the Netherlands Tooneel great success. Later titles are: In and around the small town (1887), along Maas and Trench (1890), The Killer Star (1892), Jean, ‘t Stumpke, Hawioe-Ho (1893), The Zûpers of Bliënbèèk (1894) and A wild Rosary (1894). In 1892 Seipgens secretary of the Society of Dutch Literature in Leiden, and in that place he died 1896. Posthumously published yet his novel on June 25, Daniel (1897) and the beam A Immortellenkrans (1897). Seipgens, which is one of the earliest naturalists of the Netherlands became completely into oblivion, until the late 70s of the last century actually was a small revival. Which among other things led to reprint the novel The chaplain Bardelo and stories in and around the small town , and to the publication of his biography, written by Peter Nissen: Emile Anton Hubert Seipgens (1837-1896). Of brewer’s son to literary (1987), and the placing of a memorial stone at Seipgens birthplace. But this revival was short-lived. If Emile Seipgens remembered voortleeft, it will have to be on the legend of the rovershoofdman Johann Bückler based ‘operabouffe’ Schinderhannes (1864), which to this day in Roermond is staged!

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And here’s another account from “The Humour of Holland,” published in 1894.

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Beer Birthday: Brian Yaeger

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Today is the 42nd birthday of fellow beer writer Brian Yaeger, author of Red, White & Brew and Oregon Breweries. Brian also writes online at his Red, White & Brew Beer Odyssey blog. A couple of years ago Brian and his lovely bride Kimberly lived in Portland, Oregon (having moved from San Francisco), but then moved to Amsterdam, before more recently moving back to Portland. Join me in wishing Brian a very happy birthday.

Brian Yaeger, Brian Lenzo, owner of Blue Palms Brewhouse, and Meg Gill
Brian with Brian Lenzo, owner of Blue Palms Brewhouse, me and Meg Gill at the Speakeasy Brewery during SF Beer Week in 2010.

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Craig Cauwels with Brian, the Beer Chef Bruce Paton and me at a Schooner’s beer dinner at Cathedral Hotel in 2008.

Beer In Ads #1826: Admiral de Ruyter — Greatest Of Holland’s Sea Captains


Friday’s ad is for Budweiser, from 1914, No. 9 in another series they did in 1914-15 called the “National Heroes Series.” The ninth one features Michiel Adriaenszoon de Ruyter, who “was a Dutch admiral. He is the most famous and one of the most skilled admirals in Dutch history, most famous for his role in the Anglo-Dutch Wars of the 17th century. He fought the English and French and scored several major victories against them, the best known probably being the Raid on the Medway. The pious De Ruyter was very much loved by his sailors and soldiers; from them his most significant nickname derived: Bestevaêr (older Dutch for ‘grandfather’.)”

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Beer In Ads #1734: Brand


Thursday’s ad is for Brand Bier, which was established in 1430. If you’re going to pick a brand name for your beer, Brand seems like a pretty good way to go. Brand Bier is still a going concern, and is the oldest brewer in the Netherlands. As for this ad, I’m not sure when it is from, though given how generic it is, it could really be from any time. I’m also not sure if the dozen full beer glasses are meant to spell out anything or otherwise represent some shape.

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Beer In Ads #1732: Ik Drink Bier


Saturday’s ad is for Grolsch, from 1951. Ik Drink Bier, or “I Drink Beer,” is a pretty simple slogan, but apparently if you drink eleven glasses of beer you can lift a pink elephant by its trunk, which is pretty impressive, and a rather bold claim. The ad was done by famous illustrator Ib Antoni, a Danish artist. It’s actually based on a previous poster he’d done where the kid only had three mugs of beer with the letter “M” on them, so it appears he adapted it for Grolsch. Across the bottom was also an addition for the ad: “Bier moet. Bier doet je goed.” Which Google translate tells me is “Beer should. Beer is good for you,” but I feel like “should” is probably not right and there’s some idiomatic use I’m missing.

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Beer In Ads #1728: Z.H.B. Lager Beers


Tuesday’s ad is for Z.H.B. Lager Beers, from the South Holland Brewery (a.k.a. Zuid Hollandse Bierbrouwerijen) in The Hague Center. The ad is from between 1925 and 1950, a wide range to be sure, but that’s according to the Memory of the Netherlands website, who also credits the ad to Jacob Jansma. It’s a pretty great illustration of a woman holding up a glass of beer, and looking slyly to the side, possibly right at you and me.

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