NWBCA Top 30 – Heineken, DB Breweries

Heineken Light

Back in 1873 Gerard Heineken discovered a passion for brewing so he purchased a piece of land in what is now the centre of Amsterdam, built a brewery, and set about perfecting the recipe that would soon become Holland’s first ‘premium’ lager beer. Over the next 140 years the brewery expanded and Heineken is now served in 192 countries, including New Zealand.

Heineken has always used pure, natural ingredients: malted barley, water, hops and a small but significant extra called A-Yeast.  Heineken’s unique A-Yeast is responsible for the rich balanced taste and subtle fruity notes that have distinguished every single Heineken since the 19th century.

Launched in 2015, Heineken Light catered to a growing market of drinkers that wanted a lighter beer, but still with a premium taste. It contains fewer calories, less carbohydrates, and a lower alcohol content compared to original Heineken. “Heineken Light has been a great hit in New Zealand and the team are really proud of the recognition it has received in the 2020 New World Beer & Cider Awards,” said DB Breweries marketing director, Sean O’Donnell.

Heineken Light has been brewed in New Zealand for five years under the supervision of DB’s Master Brewer, Dave Eaton. Dave has worked for DB Breweries for 31 years, and became a qualified global Master Brewer in 2013. He is passionate about quality, and has been at the forefront of our product innovations for many years. In 2019, he spent 11 months developing a 0.0% DB Export product, without using a de-alcoholisation machine (no mean feat!), and this year he has been using the brand’s spent alcohol to manufacture WHO grade hand sanitiser which the team can distribute to its people and customers to support them through the COVID pandemic.

“Dave is incredibly talented, and we are fortunate to have him in our brewery.”

Heineken Light caters for beer drinkers looking for a lighter alternative. The 2.5% lager has fewer calories and less carbohydrates than a full-strength beer, without compromising on quality or taste.

Heineken Light offers an extraordinarily smooth drinking experience with a superior taste profile brewed using all malt to provide a flavoursome foundation. The Cascade hops used impart special floral and citrus notes, along with a light bitterness.

Last year we were really proud to take out the prize for Champion Large International Brewery at the largest annual beer competition in the world, the Australian International Beer Awards. We received over 20 individual prizes for a range of products across our portfolio, the result of brilliant innovation and commitment to quality from our brewers.”

When tackling the impacts of COVID-19 as a business, DB made sure that the safety, health, and wellbeing of its people was the top priority, and recognised the need to be agile in the way it operated, quickly making a number of changes to how they did business and served customers.

With grocery distribution centres overrun, we made a shift to a direct delivery model, a huge change in our logistics model but one that we managed to pull off and ensure we could get beer to supermarket shelves. Our warehouse was busy, and operating in a different way, so we redeployed people from other parts of the business to help out on the shop floor; all the while maintaining bubbles and physical distancing.

Like many businesses, we also found ourselves working digitally far more than we ever had before, and new ways of working became essential. For example, one of our Brewing Team Operators at our Waitemata brewery needed to work from home and was set up at home by our IT Department to be able to operate our plant from their house. They ran much of the brewhouse from home, giving the term “home brewing” a whole new dimension!

All in all, people at DB have really come together to bring the company through this time. The teamwork, collaboration, agility, and adaptability has been truly remarkable.”

O’Donnell notes that New Zealand has, for some time now, seen a growing trend towards products with lower alcohol and carbohydrates, with nearly one in every 10 beers bought in New Zealand being either a lower carb, or a low or no alcohol product.

“We are the market leader in this sector and we’re really proud to offer Kiwis a variety of delicious low and no alcohol options, including great products like Heineken Light.”01