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A Pipeline Good for What Ales This Town


An unusual pipeline project is brewing underneath the historic Belgian city of Bruges, where government officials have raised a glass in approval.

And residents, for once, may be hoping for a spill.

The Bruges City Council has given the go-ahead to De Halve Maan Brewery to install a pipeline under the city center to transport beer between two production sites.

De Halve Maan
De Halve Maan
De Halve Maan (Half Moon) brewery plans to pump beer from its brewery to its bottling plant through a pipeline underneath Bruges, Belgium. The area has been home to brewers for 500 years.
De Halve Maan
De Halve Maan

De Halve Maan (Half Moon) brewery plans to pump beer from its brewery to its bottling plant through a pipeline underneath Bruges, Belgium. The area has been home to brewers for 500 years.

The city center, which was named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2000, has a brewing history that dates to 1564. De Halve Maan, founded in 1854, is the only family brewery still operating.

'Highly Innovative'

Tunneling underneath a UNESCO site may seem environmentally intrusive, to put it mildly, but the brewery says the project will benefit the city in the long run by reducing truck traffic in the area.

"It is a highly innovative technique that will stimulate economic growth and result in environmental improvements," said CEO Xavier Vanneste.

"The approval in principle of the project by the Bruges City Council is a forward-thinking and visionary decision that will guarantee the further development of our brewery in the years to come."


With no room to expand at the historic site on the Walplein square, the brewery opened a new processing plant a few miles away in Waggelwater in 2010.

De Halve Maan

The Bishop of Bruges, His Excellency Monsignor De Kesel, blessed De Halve Maan's new brewing vats in May. The family-owned company has been on the Bruges site for 160 years.

De Halve Maan continues to brew its Brugse Zot beer on the Walpien, while the new location carries out filtration, bottling and other industrial aspects of the brewing process.

The brewery says it is one of the city's leading tourist attractions, attracting more than 100,000 visitors each year.

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Currently, tankers transport beer from the brewing site on the Walplein to the processing plant at Waggelwater. Hundreds of heavy brewery trucks rumble over the city's cobblestone roads—a noisy, polluting nuisance that the underground pipeline is designed to alleviate.

"In time, this innovative investment plan would reduce the amount of transport by heavy goods vehicles by 85 [percent]," said Franky Demon, the alderman for spatial planning who approved the project on behalf of the city council.

"It is a win-win situation for eveyone, which makes me very happy," Demon said.

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6K Liters

The pipeline, about three kilometers (1.86 miles) long, will be made from high-quality polyethylene, the brewery said. "Advance computer-guided drilling techniques" will be used for installation, and open trench work will be avoided wherever possible.

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The beer pipeline is expected to reduce truck traffic in Bruges' historic city center by 85 percent.

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Vanneste told Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad that it would take 10-15 minutes for the beer to travel to the bottling plant, according to TheDrinksBusiness.com. The pipeline will pump through 6,000 liters of beer every hour.

Demon said the brewery had committed to pay for everything from installation to repair work.

"This means, for example, that repairs to the road network resulting from the drilling and trench work for the new pipeline will be paid for by the brewery," Demon said.

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The company hasn't disclosed the cost, but construction is expected to start next year, The Telegraph reported.


Tagged categories: Construction; Environmentally friendly; Pipelines; Polyethylene; Program/Project Management; Project Management


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