Belgian brewery builds 3km-long pipeline, investors get lifetime beer supply

The pipeline should be completed in the coming weeks. © Tim Wimborne
Residents of Bruges, Belgium, are hoping they can “beat the system” by tapping directly into a beer pipeline due to be completed soon. The 3km-long pipe will pump beer underground from a city center brewery to a bottling factory down the road.

Xavier Vanneste, heir to De Halve Maan brewery, got the idea when watching workmen laying cables under the streets’ cobblestones several years ago. Locals have requested taps in their homes before, but the plan was rejected by the brewery, with Vanneste claiming that the polyethylene tubes in the pipeline were “stronger than steel,” and any eager beer drinkers would find it next to impossible to tap into them.

Some 1,500 gallons (56,780 liters) of beer will be pumped from the brewery before arriving at a factory, where it can be bottled and shipped, according to the Wall Street Journal. Vanneste is forking over most of the money for the €4 million ($4.56mn) investment, but some generous customers have taken the edge off the bill by putting their own money up just as well.

Twenty-one people signed up for a gold membership arranged by Vanneste, for which their €7,500 ($8,550) investment will be rewarded with a lifetime supply of beer, assuming they drink only one bottle per day. A bronze membership, requiring a donation of €220 ($250), earned patrons one 25-ounce (740ml) bottle of beer every year for the rest of their lives.

The brewery’s truck drivers might not be too keen on the pipeline, though, as they will no longer be required to transport the beer from the brewery to the bottling factory. As central Bruges moves towards its goal of becoming completely pedestrianized in the future, Vanneste’s rivals at the Fort Lapin brewery may need to start laying pipes soon too.

Above ground, pipelines are already a thing in Germany, where beer is brought into Oktoberfest tents through tubes, and in the US, where a Cleveland brewing company pumps beer across the street to a local bar.

Vanneste’s line is laying the way for us to consume beer in the same way we consume internet and television. Depending on how much you like beer, the future is either a very bright or a very dark place.

One resident of the Russian Urals city of Chelyabinsk made waves last month when he installed a personal beer pipeline that runs from a beer store, located on the ground floor of his apartment building, to a tap in his kitchen. The idea started off as a joke, but Andrey Eremeyev, a professional mechanic, managed to make his dream come true by convincing the owners of the store to provide him with his personal beer pipeline, giving him unlimited access to his favorite drink.