Beer will be flowing under the streets in Belgium pretty soon. From September, enough beer to fill 12,000 bottles will be traveling every hour underneath your feet below the cobbled streets of the medieval city of Bruges.
But how, I hear you ask? Those beer-crazy Belgians have decided to build a 2 mile-long underground beer pipeline, connecting the brewery of De Halve Maan (The Half Moon) situated in the heart of Bruges and its bottling plant just outside the city. The idea may seem mad, but it does come from the brewery whose main beer is called Brugse Zot (Bruges fool).
Why would they do that? Well, anyone who has been to Bruges will have wandered admiringly around the small, waffle-scented streets filled with chocolatiers and fine lace boutiques. However, this idyllic scene is ruined every morning as tankers from the brewery roar through the city, busy transporting beer out of town to be bottled and distributed.
So in 2015 the Halve Maan brewery came up with the audacious plan to build their underground beer highway, which turned out to be unsurprisingly difficult to achieve. A computer-guided drill was used to tunnel its way under the medieval streets of Bruges, having to drill to a depth of 35 meters to avoid collapsing the city’s iconic concert hall.
Once the tunnel was built for the pipeline, there was another obstacle: finding a space big enough to actually assemble the pipeline. 600 meters of straight construction space was required to piece it together. With the city’s streets and parks too small, the engineering team built the pipeline on the main river that runs through the city, floating the pipeline on the water.
The brewery raised partial funds for the pipeline through a crowdfunding initiative, with the highest paying ‘members’ receiving a mouth-watering 365 bottles of Brugse Zot every year for life! The catch? The lifelong supply of beer was only awarded to people who bought the exclusive gold membership, which cost a whopping €7,500.
Many locals joked about having a tapping point built in their basements to steal some of the beer as it flows through the underground pipeline. Let’s hope someone builds a pipeline for Belgian chocolate next!