THE DAY THE BEER RAN BACKWARDS
Coals to Newcastle, Heineken to Holland. Amsterdam-based Heineken, which makes more beer worldwide than anyone except Anheuser-Busch, had to import 1.8 million gallons of its brew because of a strike just before the Apr. 30 celebration of Queen Beatrix's birthday. On this day of national celebration, the Dutch flock to town squares and quaff Falstaffian quantities of suds. Heineken and its related brand, Amstel, account for more than 50% of the Dutch market.
Quick-thinking Heineken management put a secret "import" plan into action after depleting local stocks, including a warehouse of beer in Rotterdam headed for the U.S. The company repatriated beer from some of its 90 breweries worldwide--85% of the domestic production of the struck plants. You could tell the diff: Non-Dutch Heineken comes in a green bottle, the domestic beer in a brown one. It all poured gold, however, and bars had no complaints from thirsty revelers.Patrick Oster