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  • Writer's pictureRich Honiball

Today in Brand History: Amstel Brewery


(photo credit: HeinekenCollection.com)

On June 11, 1870, the foundation stone for the Amstel Brewery was laid in Amsterdam, marking the birth of a brewing legacy that would captivate beer enthusiasts around the globe. Amstel Brewery derived its name from the Amstel River, which flows through Amsterdam, symbolizing the deep connection the brand had with its hometown. The brewery was the brainchild of two visionary Amsterdam businessmen, De Pester and J.H. van Marwijk Kooy, who recognized an opportunity to tap into the growing popularity of Bavarian beers in Holland. De Pester, whose full name was Gerard Adriaan Heineken de Pester, came from a family with a rich brewing heritage. His father was a renowned brewer and his grandfather founded the Heineken Brewery. De Pester brought his expertise and passion for brewing to the establishment of Amstel Brewery, leveraging his family's brewing knowledge and experience.

(photo credit: HeinekenCollection.com)

Originally, Amstel beers were primarily enjoyed in Amsterdam, but as the Dutch railway network expanded, so did the brand's presence outside the city. Agents were appointed in towns along the new railway lines since this was the primary means of transportation, facilitating the wider distribution of Amstel beers. In 1883, Amstel made its first export to Great Britain and the Dutch East Indies, setting the stage for its international growth.

By 1915, Amstel had experienced a twenty-fold increase in production, solidifying its position as a leading brewery in the Netherlands. The year 1926 marked a significant milestone, as Amstel beers constituted one-third of the country's beer exports. In 1941, Amstel, in collaboration with Heineken, acquired the Amsterdam-based Van Vollenhoven's Bierbrouwerij, further strengthening its presence in the Dutch brewing industry. The Van Vollenhoven's brewery eventually closed its doors in 1961.

(photo credit: HeinekenCollection.com) Amstel Brewery continued to innovate and expand its reach in the years that followed. In 1954, the brewery established a presence in Dutch Guiana by constructing a new facility. Demonstrating its commitment to innovation, Amstel became the first Dutch brewery to export beer in cans shortly thereafter.

In 1968, Amstel Brewery was acquired by Heineken International. As part of the consolidation, the Amstel Brewery in Amsterdam ceased operations in 1972, with production shifting to the main Heineken plant in Zoeterwoude. Despite this change, the legacy and essence of Amstel endured, as Heineken continued to offer several beers under the beloved Amstel brand. Today, Amstel Lager is enjoyed in 75 countries, showcasing the brand's international appeal and the enduring popularity of its exceptional brews.

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