Monday, 30 August 2021

Heineken cloning again

Heineken's pilot brewery records are so much fun. Filled with wacky stuff. This example is rather more mundane. It's an attempt to clone a competitor's product.Amstel Gold.

Amstel Gold., which is still knocking around, is a sort of strong Pils. Or something like that. Stylistically, it's all a bit vague. I think Amstel introduced it in the 1950s. If I could be arsed to look through their sales records, I could pin down the precise date. But I can't. Be arsed, that is.  It's a bit of an oddity in the Dutch beer market. There isn't a similar product I can think of from any of their rivals.

The thought clearly crossed Heineken's mind. Enough to bash out a trial brew. It doesn't seem to have gone any further. Though I'd need to trawl the main brewery records to be sure of that.

How similar were the two beers? Well, I just so happen to have Amstel records for the same year.  I've even a real version brewed almost on the same exact day. As you can see below.

The basic spec look pretty similar. Heineken's is a bit lower in OG, but the hopping rates are almost the same. Which doesn't mean they would have tasted the same. Just that they would have been generally similar in character.

Heineken "Amstel Gold" Gold in 1956
Date Brewer Beer OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation kg hops/ 100 kg hops kg/hl
12th Mar Amstel Gold 1058.8 1015.2 5.77 74.21% 1.19 0.23
16th Mar Heineken Amstel Gold 1055.5 1013.3 5.57 75.98% 1.29 0.24
Amstel brewing record held at the Amsterdamse Stadtsarchief, document number 1506-555.
Heineken Brouwjournal van de proefziederij held at the Amsterdamse Stadtsarchief, document number 834-1791.


Anonymous said...

What was the audience for these little trial runs? Any idea if they made enough to run them by public test markets, or was it purely tiny batches for internal evaluation?

Ron Pattinson said...


pretty sure this one was for internal use only. Some other pilot brewery beers - in particular the Stout - seem to have been beers intended for sale to the public. I ssume they brewed it at the pilot brewery because the volumes were small.