Heineken Launches New Virtual Beer, But It’s Not Drinkable

by TK Sanders
(Photo by Karol Serewis/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Dutch beer brand Heineken launched an industry first today: a virtual beer made of pixels instead of yeast. Customers can “taste” Heineken Silver exclusively in the brand’s virtual brewery within an immersive digital platform called Decentraland.

Heineken Silver is a beer for the metaverse, so it isn’t real in the sense that a person can actually drink it. A metaverse avatar can enjoy the beer, though, and Heineken hopes the digital project gives it a leg-up in future iterations of massive online second life programs.

According to the company’s marketing department, Heineken’s special A-yeast, usually brewed in horizontal tanks, has been replaced with A-Pixels. As for hops harvested in fields? Binary Coded Hops grown by NPC (non-player character) farmers make up the meta-beer. And finally, Heineken’s dedicated Virtual Brewing Assistants oversee the entire “brewing” process.

The company unveiled the virtual beer at a product launch event in the virtual brewery where guests got to learn about how the beer is “made” in just seconds. Guests also “enjoyed” pixelated lobster and caviar while rubbing shoulders with online Heineken ambassadors, like footballer Thierry Henry.

Heineken admits that the metaverse beer is a ‘joke’

“At Heineken, we believe that connecting with people is vital to human existence; like the air we breathe or the water we drink,” Bram Westenbrink, Global Head Heineken Brand said. “And we know that the metaverse brings people together in a light-hearted and immersive way that is really exciting – but it’s just not the best place to taste a new beer.

“Our new virtual beer is an ironic joke. It is a self-aware idea that pokes fun at us and many other brands that are jumping into the metaverse with products that are best enjoyed the real world. For now, you can’t taste pixels and bytes. So, we wanted to make a joke about that; and remind everyone that nothing beats the taste of a refreshing beer, including our new virtual Heineken Silver, in the real world.”

Spanish street artist J. Demsky partnered with the brand to design certain parts of the experience.

“As a long-time lover of Heineken, I was excited to partner with this fun and unique launch. It brings the brand, and virtual Heineken Silver, to life in a really unique way,” Demsky said. “I’m happy to be able to give people a way to artistically understand what a virtual drink could taste like. When you combine all the pixels and technology together, the project fits perfectly with who I am; and the art I like to create. So I hope people love my interpretation of what virtual beer could be like if it had a flavor.”

In the real world, Heineken employs over 85,000 actual human beings and operates facilities in more than 70 countries.