What Kind of Beer is Heineken? Answered (2023)

Last Updated on May 29, 2023 by Lydia Martin

I went on an interesting journey, exploring the captivating appeal of Heineken, a mysterious and popular beer brand. Inside its green bottle, you’ll find a fascinating combination of flavors.

The gentle taste of malt blends together with an enchanting mix of hops, creating a captivating brew that beer lovers find truly delightful.

But really, what kind of beer is Heineken?

This post will tell you everything you need to know about Heineken beer, so keep scrolling.

What’s Heineken’s Beer Type? 

Bottles of Heineken

Heineken is a pale lager, although it feels heavier and bolder than other beers.

The distinctive characteristics of the Original beer from Dutch brewer Heineken make it an international pale lager. The factors include:

  • High bitterness (23-IBU)
  • High carbonation
  • Light golden color (3-SRM)
  • 5% alcohol content
  • Bottom-fermented (instead of top-fermented)

In 2005, people started asking Heineken to make light beer. So, Heineken decided to introduce pale lagers, starting with Heineken Light, with fewer calories and carbs and a 3.2% ABV.

In 2019, Heineken’s brewers brewed an alcohol-free beer, Heineken 0.0, that tastes like a regular beer, with 69 calories and a few fruit flavors.

What Kind Of Lager Is Heineken?

According to the Beer Judge Certification Program, Heineken beer is a pale lager.

It’s characterized by certain characteristics distinguishing them from other beer types. They must have an IBU between 18-25, which is in the range of Heineken lager (23).

Next is the standard reference method – determining the intensity of a beer’s color or SRM. International pale lagers must have an SRM between 2 and 6, which also covers the range of Heineken’s (3).

Another classifying factor is its alcohol level. Light lagers must have an ABV of 4.6% to 6%, which also covers Heineken’s ABV of (5%).

What Makes Heineken A Lager? 

Glass of Heineken Beer

Brewing & Fermentation

As mentioned, Heineken is bottom-fermented, a deviation from the traditional top-fermenting process.

“From man’s sweat and God’s love, beer came into the world.”

― Saint Arnoldus, Patron Saint of Hop-Pickers

Since it uses the bottom-fermenting process, it is fermented at colder temperatures.


The basic ingredients are purified water, malted barley, yeast, and hops. This makes it a classic lager. Its distinctive flavor gives a different taste created by adding yeast.

Alcohol Content

Heineken lager beer has an average ABV of 5%. Depending on the variation, the alcohol level also varies. Here are several beers from the brand and their ABVs.

  • Heineken Light – 3.2%
  • Heineken Pilsener – 5%
  • Heineken 0.0 – 0%

These beers fall within the criterion of a pale, which must have 4.6% to 6% ABV.


Bottles of Heineken on a Bowl Full of Glass

Light lagers have a robust flavor and are typically brewed with hop cones. So, Heineken is a refreshing drink and is crisp without the bitter taste most lagers have.

Its finish is dry, and its aroma is herbal with a subtle fruity flavor. This pale ale is also medium-bodied, adding to a great Heineken experience.

Fun Fact: Heineken is a major sponsor of various sports leagues, such as the European Champions League and the Rugby World Cup.

They started major sponsorship of the Welsh Premier Division Competition of the Rugby Union. Besides, they’ve signed a multi-year deal with the all-women-signed seal racing. 

Bitterness Level

The IBU of Heineken is 23, which means it’s in the range of pale lagers or pilsner (18-25). So, it tastes refreshing, crisp, and light.


Heineken is highly carbonated but not to the extent of Budweiser. The good carbonation level of this beer makes the drink more vibrant.

Are All Its Variants Pale Lagers?

Two Bottles of Heineken

Yes, Heineken variants have always been pale lagers. Since 1869, Heineken has been a leading international producer of such beer.

Before that, Gerard Adriaan Heineken brewed various types of beer for five years. In 1864, Heineken acquired the original brewery (Haystack Brewery) in Amsterdam.

“Heineken, a golden testament to Dutch brewing, delights with its harmonious blend of malt sweetness and invigorating hops.”

– Liquor Laboratory

After hiring Dr. Elion and creating a special yeast, the brewery created the first Heineken beer in 1873.

In 1875, it was awarded the “Medaille d’Or” grand prize at the Paris International Maritime Exposition. The Heineken sales of over 1.7 million gallons made it France’s biggest beer exporter.


Where is Heineken beer from?

Heineken came from Europe, Amsterdam specifically. It started when Gerard Adriaan Heineken purchased one of the breweries in the country, Haystack.

How is Heineken a green beer?

Heineken is a green beer as it’s sold in green bottles with a red star printed on them. In 1954, they introduced an oval logo designed by Fredy Heineken.

During the 1930s, the symbol became linked to communism after the second world war – swapping the red into a white star.

Is Heineken a German beer?

No, Heineken isn’t a German beer. It’s one of the popular Dutch beers [1]. It’s the official beer of the Formula One World Championships and the Canadian Grand Prix.

On A Final Note

Heineken is a pale lager, considering its ABV, carbonation, bitterness level, ingredients, flavor, and brewing process.

This answers why Heineken [2] gives a distinctive flavor and profile from other brands like Bud Light, an American light lager.



Lydia Martin

Lydia Martin hails from Redmond, Washington, where you’ll find some of the best cocktail bars and distilleries that offer a great mix of local drinks. She used to work as a bar manager in Paris and is a self-taught mixologist whose passion for crafting unique cocktails led her to create Liquor Laboratory. Lydia can whip up a mean Margarita in seconds! Contact at [email protected] or learn more about us here.

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