October 19, 2016
One of my favorite things about living in a city like Minneapolis is that its cost of living affords me the chance to travel — to leave the city and explore elsewhere. (I’ve chronicled some of those travels in previous Peepshow posts, including trips to Italy and China.)
Most recently, I took a two-week European excursion, traversing cities in the Netherlands, Belgium, France and Switzerland. I flew in and out of Amsterdam, and it was my first time visiting the city. Coincidentally, I’m lucky enough to work with not one but two Fast Horse clients with roots in Amsterdam, and it was a treat to experience these brands that I’m so familiar with, on their home turf.
Like everyone, I’d heard about Amsterdam’s prevalent and distinctive biking culture. But it wasn’t until I stepped off a tram and crossed through a sea of bike commuters en route to my Airbnb that I realized how intense – and great – that biking culture truly is.
So it’s only natural that VanMoof, a company that’s revolutionizing how people commute by bike, would hail from Amsterdam. I’ve worked closely with VanMoof as the company introduced its unique city bikes to the United States, including the brand-new Electrified S, which boasts futuristic features like smartphone connectivity, keyless locks and a digital touchpad display. But what makes the bike truly special is its fully concealed “electric assist” function, which engages as you pedal and propels you forward, getting you from Point A to Point B much faster – without anyone even being able to tell that your bike is “super-powered.” (I’m not overstating the innovation here. It’s repeatedly been called the “Tesla of bikes.”)
Having visited VanMoof’s Brooklyn brandstore numerous times, I was excited for the opportunity to see the company’s headquarters in Amsterdam. It was a beautiful, clean and modern space.
Most importantly: My wife and I got to take some VanMoofs for a spin around a beautiful nearby park, getting the true Amsterdam experience.
I’ve had the pleasure of working with Heineken on projects across the United States, including Miami, San Francisco and, most recently, Los Angeles. But I never had the chance to go straight to the source and experience Heineken on its original home, and in all its storied history.
The operative word there is “experience” – indeed, the tours at Heineken’s Amsterdam brewery are literally called “The Heineken Experience.”
I’ve been to dozens of breweries in dozens of states and multiple countries, and this experience was truly one-of-a-kind. I won’t spoil the surprise for anyone who may get a chance to take the tour someday, but let’s just say you get to roam through energetic, vibrantly colored rooms that offer a unique mix of educational information and straightforward fun, all while immersing you in the company’s rich history. You even get to go on a theme-park-type “ride,” in which you “become part of the beer” and might find yourself wishing you brought an umbrella.
Here’s a shot of one of Heineken’s historic brew kettles:
There were also countless rooms where you were immersed in different experiences that are at the heart of the Heineken brand. This soccer one was among my favorite:
What’s the moral of the story? I suppose that if you get a chance to work with cool people from cool places, don’t take it for granted.