‘Bruges beer subway’: Belgian brewery opens 3km pipeline running through historic center (VIDEO)

© David W Cerny
Already famous for its canals, the Belgian fairy tale town of Bruges now has a beer subway, announced the mayor Renaat Landuyt during a press conference organized on the eve of the inauguration of the foamy drink pipeline.

On Friday, De Halve Maan brewery started transporting beer to its customers through a specially built 3,276-meter underground pipe that runs from the brewery in the city center to the bottling plant outside the city.

After more than 10 months of construction, the €5 million pipe is certain to make DeHalve Maan Brewery one of the attractions of the city, often referred to as the Venice of the North, which draws about 6.6 million tourists a year.

“The project proves that Bruges is not a museum but a living town,” said Renaat Landuyt, Mayor of Bruges, calling the new construction a “beer subway.”

The idea to create an underground beer hub was born by the owners of the brewery that stretches back to the 16th century. Wanting to save costs in the long run and ensure the longevity of their business, De Halve Maan brewery decided to take their trucks that used to run up to five trips per day off the streets of the UNESCO protected city center go Bruges.

“We faced some problems with heavy tanker trucks that have to bring our beer from here to our bottling plant that is 3 kilometers out of the town,” De Halve Maan managing director Xavier Vanneste told Ruptly. “That's why we were looking for other opportunities.”

“It was so important to find that solution for our mobility problem, because if we want to work in a modern way, from time to time we need to let trucks enter the historical city, and that is what we don’t like, because it is always a risk for the historical buildings and streets,” the mayor added.

To push through their business plan, the owners of the beer business decided to crowdfund some of the expenses, raising over €300,000 from beer lovers all around the world by offering a reward for their loyalty.

Those who contributed €7,500 received a Golf Membership and a pledge to receive one 33cl bottle of Brugse Zot Blond every day for the rest of their lives, as well as 18 personalized glasses. Gold members also received a VIP front-row seat for the inauguration ceremony of the pipeline.

Silver membership was offered at a cost of €800, which included one case of 24 bottles of Brugse Zot Blond a year for life, six glasses and an invitation to the inauguration. For €220, contributors received a Bronze membership for which the individual received one presentation bottle of 75cl of Brugse Zot Blond a year for life, one personalized glass and an invitation to the inauguration.

But their contribution paid off. The pipe is now capable of supplying 4,000 liters, or some 12,000 bottles an hour. The route of the delivery system generally follows the waterways, including historic canals. Built mostly less than 2 meters below the surface, it passes 34 meters underground at its deepest point.

The pipeline was designed by Denys, a company based in Wondelgem that specializes in water, gas and oil pipelines construction. The developers created a system that cleans and flushes the pipeline along several control systems to guarantee the quality of beer at each port of the pipe. The two pipes through which the beer passes are 6.5 centimeters in diameter each and are made from high-grade plastic.

To the knowledge of Vanneste, the beer pipeline is the world first of its kind.

“There is a good pipeline linking a brewery in a football stadium in the Czech Republic but one that follows such a course as a historical center is unique,” he said.