Where is my Heineken brewed?
March 24, 2011 3:45 PM   Subscribe

Heineken: Where is my Heineken brewed? Secret Code?

I buy Heineken in the UK in the ID Can (little 330ml cans). I think it used to say "Brewed by Heineken" and I liked it. Now it says "Brewed under the supervision of Heineken" and I think the taste has changed. Is there anyway to figure out where beer is brewed from the code on the bottom of the can? Is there anyway to find the "real" Heineken actually brewed in Holland?
posted by priorpark17 to Food & Drink (11 answers total)
Heineken apparently closed down the Gateshead brewery within the last 6 months, and transferred production to the john Smith's brewery at Tadcaster.

I suspect you would have to go to Holland to get the 'genuine' article, but that's not what you have been drinking in the UK historically. Before 2003, all the beer sold under the name was produced under license in the UK by anothe brewer. When they got the rights back Heineken switched the product to the global standard (ie 5%) but still brewed in the UK.
posted by biffa at 4:20 PM on March 24, 2011

I don't know about the UK, but most of the Heineken you can buy in Australia is brewed in Australia. They still charge import beer prices for it, of course.

You can, however, still buy genuine import Heineken, but only at more speciality bottle shops. I imagine it's the same in the UK – you should still be able to buy it, you just need to find somewhere that imports it. And you'll probably pay a bit more for it, but it will probably be worth it. Beer brewed under license is never as good as the genuine article, IMO.
posted by damonism at 4:46 PM on March 24, 2011

Heineken has three breweries in the UK (according to their UK website): Edinburgh, North Yorkshire, and Manchester. Many, many years ago I worked for a beer company and we would occasionally get calls asking similar questions. At that time, in the US, we could tell them where their beer was brewed based on the information on the can or bottle (after all, if there was a recall there must be a way to communicate to the consumers). Why not call them and ask? Their numbers are on the linked page.
posted by Houstonian at 5:01 PM on March 24, 2011

you should still be able to buy it, you just need to find somewhere that imports it. And you'll probably pay a bit more for it, but it will probably be worth it.

But not always, since that green bottle makes it prone to skunking, which means you have to be careful buying the (Dutch-brewed) Heineken in the US. (Likewise, Newcastle Brown.)
posted by holgate at 5:17 PM on March 24, 2011

Beer brands and breweries seems to be horribly convoluted in this modern world of multi-national conglomerates.

I toured the original Cascade brewery in Tasmania. It is still operational. When we got to the the actual brewing tanks at the end of the tour, the whiteboards said they contained Bulmer's Cider, Carlton Draught, and ... I think .... Guiness. I asked the tour guide "Where's the Cascade?". He said "Well, we're owned by Foster's now, so we just brew what they tell us, which is all based on local supply and demand".

Maybe your Heineken is coming from Mexico? From wikipedia ...

On January 12, 2010, Heineken International successfully bought the brewery division of Mexican giant FEMSA, and also merged with the company, expanding its reach throughout Latin America. The company will sell its products there through FEMSA, which is the largest bottler and brewery in all of Latin America, and maker of such brands as Dos Equis XX, Bohemia and Sol. FEMSA now owns 20% of Heineken N.V. after the early 2010 all stock deal, becoming its largest shareholder after the Dutch family who owns 50%.[5]

Here's more confusion, again thanks to Wikipedia ...

In 1983 Elders IXL, a giant Australian diversified conglomerate, purchased Carlton and United Breweries, and renamed it Elders Brewing Group. Then in 1990, the Elders Brewing Group changed its name to the Foster's Group, to reflect the name of their most internationally recognised product.

In 2005, Foster's Group acquired the Australian wine-making group Southcorp. This acquisition added famous brands such as Penfolds, Lindemans and Rosemount to the Foster's stable and around A$1 billion to revenues.

There has long been speculation that the beer sector or all of Foster's Group will be subject to a takeover by a larger firm. Groups to express such an interest over the years have included Diageo, SABMiller, Molson Coors and Heineken.

TL;DR: It's hard to tell.
posted by Diag at 7:38 PM on March 24, 2011

Yep, your beer is probably coming from Mexico now, specifically Monterrey. I remember reading in the local paper a few weeks ago ( maybe more) that FEMSA (we just call it "Cervecería" here) was oficially brewing Heineken here now.
posted by CrazyLemonade at 11:56 PM on March 24, 2011

Yep, your beer is probably coming from Mexico now, specifically Monterrey.

Rubbish. There is precisely zero chance they are brewing vast amounts of Heineken in Mexico then shipping it to the UK. All the UK stuff will be brewed in the UK, just as pretty much all the other beer drunk there is brewed there - bar a few speciality beers.
posted by biffa at 3:05 AM on March 25, 2011 [2 favorites]

Yep, your beer is probably coming from Mexico now, specifically Monterrey.

All of the big beer conglomerates either operate their own, or license, local breweries around the globe. There aren't container ships full of beer traveling across the oceans. UK Heiney is brewed in the UK, just as US Guinness has never so much as been within shouting distance of St. James Gate.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:15 AM on March 25, 2011

It definitely won't be brewed at the Caledonian Brewery in Edinburgh, which is more of a working beer museum than a brewery. (That's a good thing, IMO, but it couldn't produce a modern lager at all or any beer in large quantities).

The Smith's Brewery in Tadcaster is a similar holy site of brewing (the only brewery that still has stone squares as fermentation vessels, I'm pretty sure). It isn't equipped to produce lager either.

That leaves the Royal Brewery in Manchester, which is where Fosters and McEwans are brewed. It's a modern (i.e. C20th, not C19th as the other two are) brewery designed to produce lagers (the other two are ale breweries). In 2000 it had a capacity of over 3M hectolitres. (The other two breweries will be wondering what that is in barrels). It may be the same now; I doubt it's any less.

In short, I'd bet large amounts of money that your Heineken is brewed in Manchester. If you want one that's brewed in Holland, either ask nicely at a local independent off license, where they might be able to get them in for you or (if you live on the East Coast) jump in a van, drive to Harwich for the ferry, and stock up.

I'm also pretty sure the little 5L kegs are brewed in Holland.
posted by GeckoDundee at 6:05 AM on March 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thjanks all. I think the change in the wording from "brewed by" to "under the supervision of" indicates that they have outsourced the brewing to a firm that isn't even Heineken UK. I will look at those 5L kegs and check the wording.
posted by priorpark17 at 9:03 AM on March 25, 2011

Response by poster: Figured it out.

I was drinking this Brewed in Holland. But now Tescos is suppling the Heineken in Champions League livery that is just Imported

Same for the bottles. In a 12 pack you get

Premium Quality Imported

and in the 4 pack it is

Brewed in Holland
posted by priorpark17 at 9:28 AM on March 25, 2011

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