De Halve Maan has brewed intoxicating libations in Bruges, Belgium for nearly five centuries. When you operate in a city dating back to the Iron Age — a UNESCO Heritage site, designated as “an outstanding example of a type of building, architectural or technological ensemble or landscape which illustrates a significant stage in human history” — steps toward modernization are precarious ones, but De Halve Maan CEO Xavier Vanneste and his team are taking them in strides.
After brewing, the beer must be filtered, bottled, and shipped, but first? It must be transported the three kilometers (That’s 1.86 miles.) from Brouwerij De Halve Maan to the bottling facility the company opened in 2010. To date, they’ve done this by transfer truck, but transfer trucks burn fuel, spew polluting fumes, and cause traffic to snarl along the medieval cobblestone streets. Until now.
The brewery has worked together with the city council, and plans have been approved to construct a pipeline that will shuttle the suds across town while reducing emissions and congestion. No longer will dozens of trucks make road travel difficult. De Halve Maan’s award-winning beer will traverse a polyethylene pipeline, arriving at the bottling facility a mere 20 minutes after beginning its subversive journey.
“The pipeline will move 6,000 liters of beer every hour,” said Vanneste.
Critics of the proposed pipeline worry about the cost, and how the ancient roads must be torn up to facilitate installation, but the company remains one step ahead: Bruges will pay nothing. The brewery will minimize damage to the city streets with the use of computer-guided drilling techniques, and has promised to singularly fund the installation and road repair costs.
“In time, this innovative investment plan would reduce the amount of transport by heavy goods vehicles by 85 percent,” said Franky Dumon, the alderman for spatial planning who approved the project on behalf of the city council. “It is a win-win situation for everyone.”
De Halve Maan has found a solution to satisfy everyone: They will continue to brew beer in the centuries-old edifice that draws more than 100,000 visitors each year. The city of Bruges, and its residents will enjoy the benefits of 500 fewer trucks on the roads. And maybe, just maybe, beer will flow freely in the streets. (Okay, in all honesty, we hope that doesn’t happen. It would sure be a mess to clean up, and expensive to fix, but it sure can’t hurt to dream.)
Pipeline construction will begin in 2015.