Heads-Up: The Belgian City of Bruges has a Pipeline for Beer | Nat Geo Traveller India

Heads-Up: The Belgian City of Bruges has a Pipeline for Beer

The 3km-long pipeline enables the flow of enough booze to fill 12,000 bottles an hour.  
Bruges Zot
De Halve Maan, the brewery behind the pipeline, is best known for its blond beer Brugze Zot. Photo courtesy De Halve Maan

The Belgian city of Bruges has given beer-lovers much to hop about. In September 2016, the city inaugurated the world’s first beer pipeline, a three-kilometre line that runs from De Halve Maan (Half Moon) brewery in the city centre to its bottling and packaging plant on the outskirts of Bruges.

De Halve Maan—located in the UNESCO World Heritage city centre—is known for two reasons: It’s Bruges’ oldest continuously working brewery, and it makes a great blonde beer called Brugse Zot. Until recently, the beer brewed in De Halve Maan has been transported to its bottling plant by trucks. But the city’s quaint, cobblestone streets are known to have some of the worst traffic in the western world. The new pipeline eases the tension. It also allows the brewery to continue producing beer in its historic location.

Photos: Neil Thompson/Flickr/Creative Commons (http://bit.ly/1jxQJMa) (canal); courtesy De Halve Maan (road)

The pipeline runs along main roads, parking lots, and historic canals in Bruges’ UNESCO World Heritage city centre. Photos: Neil Thompson/Flickr/Creative Commons (http://bit.ly/1jxQJMa) (canal); courtesy De Halve Maan (road)

Funds for the project were raised by crowdfunding, with help from the city. The brewery raised over €3,00,000 (about ₹2 crores) and large contributors receive a lifetime supply of beer in return. But De Halve Maan had other challenges to navigate. “No private company had ever been allowed to lay cable under the city’s cobbled lanes and around the renowned medieval buildings that have secured Bruges’s place on the UNESCO World Heritage list,” The Guardian noted. To keep damage to a bare minimum, computer-guided underground drills were used, and “the brewers will use jets of cleaning solution to disinfect and sterilize the pipes and keep the product in safe chugging condition,” Wired writes. According to the Guardian report, enough booze to fill 12,000 bottles an hour flow through the pipeline.

De Halve Maan conducts guided tours of the brewery, with tastings. (Daily, 11a.m.-4p.m. €9/₹655 per person.) Visit www.halvemaan.be for details.

Updated in January 2017.

  • Fabiola Monteiro was formerly a member of National Geographic Traveller India's digital team. Since then, her words have featured in The Hindu, Mint Lounge, Roads & Kingdoms, The Goya Journal, and Condé Nast Traveller India. She tweets as @thefabmonteiro and is on Instagram @fabiolamonteiro.

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