A Belgian brewery, the Halve Maan, after four years of planning, is turning on the taps of a pipeline buried beneath the medieval city of Bruges to transport its beer to a bottling plant 3 km away.
Bruges is a Unesco world heritage site home to early Flemish painters and filled with Gothic brick buildings, canals and historic churches. Until now the company transported its beer using trucks weighing more than 40 tonnes that had to wind their way through the narrow cobblestone streets of the city.
Half Maan’s managing director, Xavier Vanneste, said the idea of a pipe had seemed crazy until he saw local workmen laying underground cables and started looking into it.
The brew master, five generational lines down from founder Henri Maes, said he could have moved the brewing to beside the bottling plant built in 2010 and kept the old site as a museum. But he wanted to retain the beers as products of the old city. Halve Maan is the last of the old guard left and on a site where an earlier “Halve Maan” brewery operated 575 years ago.
The pipeline cost $4.5 million. Halve Maan received a subsidy from the regional government, but also raised about 350,000 euros through crowdfunding, among the largest ever in Belgium, paying contributors back in beer.
Those paying the top-rate 7,500 euros will be rewarded with a bottle of Brugse Zot every day for the rest of their lives.