Today is the birthday of Gerard Adriaan Heineken (September 28, 1841-March 18, 1893). In 1864, he founded the Heineken brewing dynasty that’s still family-owned today.
This is part of the Wikipedia page for Heineken:
On 15 February 1864, Gerard Adriaan Heineken (1841–1893) convinced his wealthy mother to buy De Hooiberg (The Haystack) brewery in Amsterdam, a popular working-class brand founded in 1592. In 1873 after hiring a Dr. Elion (student of Louis Pasteur) to develop Heineken a yeast for Bavarian bottom fermentation, the HBM (Heineken’s Bierbrouwerij Maatschappij) was established, and the first Heineken brand beer was brewed. In 1875 Heineken won the Medaille D’Or at the International Maritime Exposition in Paris, then began to be shipped there regularly, after which Heineken sales topped 64,000 hectolitres (1.7 million U.S. gallons), making them the biggest beer exporter to France.
Here are some “interesting facts” about the early days of Heineken from the website First Versions:
- In 1869 Gerard Heineken decided to switch from traditional top fermentation to the Bavarian method of bottom fermentation, a totally different technique that produces a clearer, purer beer, which keeps longer.
- On January 11, 1873, Heineken’s Bierbrouwerij Maatschappij NV (HBM) was established, and Gerard Heineken was appointed President.
- A second brewery was opened in Rotterdam in 1874.
- In 1886 Dr. Hartog Elion, a pupil of the French chemist Louis Pasteur, developed the “A-yeast” in the Heineken laboratory. This yeast is still the key ingredient of Heineken beer.
And this is from the Heineken N.V. Wikipedia page:
The Heineken company was founded in 1864 when the 22-year-old Gerard Adriaan Heineken bought a brewery known as De Hooiberg (the haystack) in Amsterdam. In 1869 Heineken switched to the use of bottom-fermenting yeast. In 1873 the brewery’s name changed to Heineken’s Bierbrouwerij Maatschappij (HBM), and opened a second brewery in Rotterdam in 1874. In 1886 Dr. H. Elion, a pupil of the French chemist Louis Pasteur, developed the “Heineken A-yeast” in the Heineken laboratory. This yeast is still the key ingredient of Heineken beer.
And this longer biography is a Google translation of Oneindig Noord-Holland:
Gerard was born in Amsterdam in 1841 as the son of Cornelis Heineken and Anna Geertruida van der Paauw. He grew up with his brother and two sisters at a time when various contagious diseases were haunting the city. Many fled from run-down and impoverished Amsterdam. Gerard’s half-sister died in 1851 and his brother Adriaan, who was only eight years old, died two months later.
Gerard was a child of his time: he had a great interest in art, the history of the city and new technological developments. In 1863 Gerard had his eye on the somewhat dilapidated De Hooiberg brewery on the Nieuwezijds Achterburgwal in Amsterdam. Gerard’s move to take over the brewery was, to say the least, remarkable. The consumption of beer, still the national folk drink in the 17th century, had only declined. Preference was often given to wine, coffee, cocoa or tea and for the workers, gin and brandy were sufficient, which also had a better shelf life than beer. In addition, the quality of beer had recently deteriorated, so that the brewing industry enjoyed little prestige.
What probably appealed to Gerard was the technical aspect of brewing. It was a time when many new techniques were being developed and with that much progress was possible. In England, partly due to the steam engine, the beer industry had grown to such an extent that it was comparable to the textile industry or mining. In addition, beer was considered a blessing for public health in the Netherlands. If people wanted to move forward and regain their former prosperity, they had to drink the gin and the beer. Beer was therefore an ideal product to invest in if you had money and enough guts.
Gerard had a nose for entrepreneurship and managed to bring the beer back to the man. The switch to the so-called Beijerse or bottom-fermented beer was the first major success. Expansion soon became necessary and three years later the first stone was laid for a new factory on Stadhouderskade.
To keep up, Gerard made sure that the most modern techniques were used in the brewery. He was the first to buy a very expensive ice cream machine, which solved the cooling problems in one fell swoop. Yet the brewery is not only doing well. The international market and Paris in particular remains difficult to conquer. There was strong competition from Germany but also from our own city, where Amsterdam’s Amstel beer provided exciting times. Nevertheless, Gerard always managed to come back as the largest Dutch beer brewery.
While 1893 seemed to be a quiet year, disaster struck on March 18 for Gerard. He collapsed during a meeting, after which he died almost immediately: a heart attack. His son Henry Pierre Heineken (1886-1971) would eventually take over, but lacked business acumen and interest and did more harm than good. Fortunately, his son, the well-known Freddy Heineken (1923-2002), seemed to have inherited more of his grandfather’s talent for trade and leadership. Freddy did everything he could to get the company back into the hands of the Heinekens and would then be able to turn Gerard’s beer brand into a global brand.