back to article Bruges Booze tubes to pump LOVELY BEER underneath city

The Belgian city of Bruges has approved plans to build a pipeline which will funnel beer underneath its famous cobbled streets. Locals and politicians were fed up with huge lorries clattering through the cobbled streets and tiny canal paths of the picturesque city and decided to connect the De Halve Maan brewery to a bottling …

  1. Dave 126 Silver badge

    Let's see now.... 2 miles, 1500 gallons / hour, 15 minutes to get there...

    I was going to make a rough estimate of pipe diameter, but I don't have a back of a beermat to hand.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Will bring a new meaning to cleaning the beers pipes once a week.

    2. king of cardboard

      1" would do it

    3. John H Woods Silver badge

      IAUNABPE but

      Flow = 1500 gallons per hour = 1.89e-3 m3s-1

      Velocity = 2 miles in 15 minutes = 12.9 km per hour = 3.58ms-1

      Area = 1.89e-3 / 3.58 = 0.000528m2

      Radius = sqrt (0.000528/pi) = 0.013 m

      Diameter = 0.026m = 2.6 cm.

      I Am Unfortunately Not A Beer Pipe Engineer but ... I reckon allowing for resistance you're still only looking at a 2" pipe or so.

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        I can't stop myself now. Oh dear, oh dear.

        1500 gallons/hour is 1.84 Litres/sec

        Velocity is about 3.5 m/s

        I must confess I don't have charts for beer, only water. I'm using my trusty IOP Plumbing Engineering Services Design Guide.

        But you won't be using a small pipe, as frictional resistance is going to be huge.

        If you used a 50mm (2") copper/steel pipe, the frictional resistance would be 0.02m per metre run of pipe. Tiny you say? Aha, but run that for around 3,000m? You have a pressure drop of 60m, i.e. 6 bar. So you'd need a seriously chunky pump.

        Therefore I'd suggest using at least a 76mm (3") pipe, which gives a frictional resistance of 0.004m/m - and a pressure drop of 1.2 bar. I'd have thought that pumping beer too hard might not be good for it, so you might even consider a 4" pipe. After all, the cost comes in digging the trench, the actual pipe is quite a small proportion of that.

        To add a further complication, plastic pipe has thicker walls. You might choose to use multi-layer pipe for this job, in which case you tend to go up one pipesize.

        Just to be silly, if you used 1" pipe, the frictional resistance at 1.8 L/sec is 0.5m/m. So the pressure drop over 2 miles would be 150 bar.

        Bruges has got some steep hills. So it may be that you can just run the pipe downhill. It's certainly a steep walk from the town centre to the station.

        I wonder what the risk is of the locals tapping into the pipe enroute?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Steep hills

          Not that I've ever seen.

          The beer is great though.

        2. Ben Bonsall

          Hills in Bruges? Not that I've staggered over...

        3. Frederic Bloggs

          Brugge (the town name that the locals use) means "bridges". The town is called "bridges" 'cos there are 10's of the things crossing the river and canals around which the city is built. Many of these bridges are old and not designed for modern heavy traffic. Which is why the council don't want lorries full of heavy beer crossing them or using the cobbled streets that surround them. Remember that road wear is proportional to the 4th power of the mass of the vehicle causing it.

          So, no hills.

          (PS why do the British insist on calling towns and cities in Flanders by their (hated) French names)

          1. Ben Bonsall

            Like Anvers? Or Bruxelles? Or Gand?

          2. Valerion

            >>PS why do the British insist on calling towns and cities in Flanders by their (hated) French names)<<

            Stoopid Flanders.

            (Need a Homer icon)

            1. Matt 21


              it's our language so we can do what we want... I suppose. You could then go on to ask why the Flemish insist on using their own strange names for Wallonian towns.

              More interesting yet is that we use the French language version for Bruges but we call the near by related Zeebrugge (Bruges-on-sea) by the Flemish name.

              Still no hills though but yes, plenty of bridges and cobbled streets in the old part of the town.

          3. Old Tom


            (PS why do the British insist on calling towns and cities in Flanders by their (hated) French names)

            The insistence referring to Ieper as Ypres - often in a silly French accent - is my bête noire.

            Although with sans-serif fonts, it's easy to misread.

            1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

              Re: Ieper

              Wipers** is a lot easier than the inevitable Leper and a lot kinder if you ask me,

              IMHO the reason for us brits preferring to use the French names is that bits of our language come from French (1066 and all that) and a lot more of us speak at least a few words of it than we do Flemish/Dutch/whatever.

              ** Four of my great uncles are listed on the Meni Gate and one at Tyne Cot so that part of the world is well known to my Family. The name of the British military newspaper published there was the Wipers Times.

            2. Anonymous Dutch Coward

              Re: Ieper

              D'accord. C'est enervant.

          4. Stoneshop

            " Which is why the council don't want lorries full of heavy beer "

            And indeed, Belgium is not known for brewing light beers.

        4. Dan Paul

          Don't forget it's a carbonated fluid........

          Beer contains dissolved CO2 gas. Those gas bubbles actually INCREASE the friction present in the piping. You effectively need a supercomputer to model the resultant "Two Phase Flow" of beer, soda etc. Regular sizing calculations do not work as expected as the viscosity and density will fluctuate with any change in flow rate, pressure or temperature. Even the variety of beer will change all the physical properties for flow calculations.

          The correct velocity will be MUCH less than used with water, any elbows should be large sweep type or even custom bent and the piping should be all welded and highly polished 316 SST. Valves need to be crevice free and full port Ball type. Don't forget the pipe "cleanouts" so the beer stone can be removed.

          I don't suggest centrifigal pumps, "peristaltic" pumps might be good or ejector style (air over hydraulic) as they are more gentle to the fluid.

          Just ask yourself do you put your beer in a blender and what happens to it after you do it?

          Otherwise there will be a lot of flat beer.

          There are three things that give head in Belgium, only one of them includes beer taps.

          1. John Sturdy

            Re: Don't forget it's a carbonated fluid........

            The CO2 gas may be topped up at the bottling plant, so this can probably be worked around.

        5. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          "So the pressure drop over 2 miles would be 150 bar."

          Yeah, but with the pressures required to get the flow in a 1" pipe, just imagine the beer fountains the next time some contractor digs into it.

        6. Mr Michael Strelitz

          How about allowing for growth, Whatever size pipe you come up with for today's capacity, next year's could be double so a 4" pipe becomes a 6" pipe to ensure some future proofing.

        7. Mr Michael Strelitz

          How about allowing for growth, Whatever size pipe you come up with for today's capacity, next year's could be double so a 4" pipe becomes a 6" pipe to ensure some future proofing.

  2. Bill Posters


    I appear to have hit a pipe while I was digging this trench. Under my shop which isn't a bar, despite what it looks like...

    1. Matt 21

      Re: oops...

      According to Belgian media the pipe will run by the canal so you'd probably need to set-up a floating bar.... but it could work :-)

  3. Mark 85

    So it would be called a "beer main"?

    Lovely idea and great fun when the pipe breaks. Let's hope they do a detailed map of the underground pipe.

    1. Frankee Llonnygog

      Re: So it would be called a "beer main"?

      It's not a beer main until there's a tap in every kitchen

  4. Anomalous Cowshed

    it makes sense

    After all, what is the point of extracting the beer from deep underground wells, pumping it to a bottling plant, and then transporting it by truck or lorry to the pub, when you could pump it directly from the bowels of the earth to the pub, cutting out the middlemen and preserving the wonderful freshness of it...

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: it makes sense


      So it was worth it to guarantee Belgium's neutrality after all.

    2. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

      Re: it makes sense

      Is this why I have often felt like saying


      when in Belgium?

    3. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: it makes sense

      The problem is that people have heard about these underground beer aquifers and misunderstood. This is why so many pubs connect the large plastic pipes they find underground directly to their lager pumps. Not realising that these pipes link to the outlet of their urinals. Fortunately no one has yet noticed...

      But there is a reason why there's a whole section of the 1999 Water Regulations dedicate to the correct marking and colour coding of pipes.

      The interesting question is which came first. Was it the belgian chocolate miners who first stubled across the beer wells? Or was it people drilling for beer who found the rich seams of chocolate to mine? Bruges is certainly a rich source of both.

      1. Stoneshop

        Re: it makes sense

        The problem is that people have heard about these underground beer aquifers and misunderstood. This is why so many pubs connect the large plastic pipes they find underground directly to their lager pumps. Not realising that these pipes link to the outlet of their urinals. Fortunately no one has yet noticed...

        Once every two weeks or so I see a beer tanker from a large brewery replenishing the cisterns of a conference centre near where I work. The pipe joint is under a manhole cover; there are three more in close proximity, but none of them is marked 'beer' or 'not beer', and anyway, he could just use one of the others to get rid of the beer, it won't make any difference. But then, why bother driving out from the brewery in the first place? Don't they have sewers?

        Glass of locally-brewed and bottled stuff, instead.

    4. Elmer Phud

      Re: it makes sense - We're Only Making Plans For Nigel

      "when you could pump it directly from the bowels of the earth to the pub"

      Invade Belgium - NOW!!!!

      Belgians have been terrorising honest, decent upstanding British (but not you bastard Scots) people for far too long, this tyrrany should be stopped at once!!

      We, of the once United Klingondoms, are ready to send in as many of other countries troops as is required.

      The threat of an increase in power of this beer-rich country has already decimated house prices.

  5. Anomalous Cowshed

    tremendous security risk

    Police and secret service types yesterday warned that the planned beer pipeline would be likely to give rise to a whole new and scary breed of terrorists, who were determined to attack the pipeline at all cost, coerced in strange sermons called 'dares' by barely intelligible, ritually inebriated 'mates' in dark dens of depravity called 'pubs', increasing the risk of terrorism a thousand fold or even more. Apparently there are millions of these potential terrorists. You could be one of them.

  6. Mint Sauce
    Thumb Up

    More importantly...

    ... will they be installing beer hydrants at regular intervals along the pipeline? And will a standard fire hydrant key & stand pipe fit them?


  7. Tom 7

    I must buy a fracking company.

    and a house in Bruges.

  8. Ken 16 Silver badge

    How long before they can extend the pipeline to all EU countries?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      So they have the london/amsterdam/frankfurt internet exchanges.

      Could they do something similar for beer?

      1. Elmer Phud
  9. bitten

    Of course they still need hundreds of trucks to bring the malt in and the ... trub out.

    1. Blitheringeejit

      Upvote ...

      sir/madam, for use of the excellent and under-used word "trub".

  10. Lostintranslation

    Or they could just pump it along the sewers.

  11. T. F. M. Reader

    500 trucks a year?

    That's all that bothers them? That's 2 trucks per working day, roughly. Is this really worth the trouble of running a whole new pipeline under the city?

    Is it really 500 lorries a day?

    1. PleebSmash

      Re: 500 trucks a year?

      500 carriages a second

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: 500 trucks a year?

        "500 carriages a second"


        <fx>carriage return</fx>

  12. Frankee Llonnygog

    Meanwhile in London ...

    The Gordon's distlillery is to install a network of fine tubes through which capillary action will draw gin directly to the dispensing nozzles in London's public houses.

    They have dubbed the technology, 'fibre optics'.

    1. Elmer Phud

      Re: Meanwhile in London ...


      1. Frankee Llonnygog

        Re: Meanwhile in London ...

        Sorry Mum!

  13. Robin Weston

    "this is unique" apart from the one example I'll give you which means it isn't.

    1. Richard 81

      It's a little bit unique.

  14. Callam McMillan

    The Belgian equivalent of B&Q has just reported a massive run on pipe tapping kits... Meanwhile at the bottling plant, they can't seem to get any beer out the pipe, no matter how much the brewery puts it!

  15. khisanth

    What about cross contamination? Different beers , different breweries etc. Cleaning the pipes will be annoying!

    1. Day

      This has been tackled before

      Try Duff Brewery's solution?

  16. Harry the Bastard

    beer under the streets, pipelaying vessel seen leaving hull

    only possible conclusion: GCHQ is already working on lawful intercept

  17. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

    Go there!

    Bruges is an absolutley awesome city. I've visited quite a few times in the past, and the Halve Maan brewery tour is a something of a highlight. Complimentary Bruges Zot, unfiltered, uncarbonated, straight from the tanks....lovely stuff

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Go there!

      I hope they brew a beer called Half Biscuit...

    2. smudge

      Re: Go there!

      Our brewery tour guide was a woman with a wicked, dry sense of humour and a completely deadpan face. She was brilliant.

      "When you finish the tour and start drinking in our bar, you will first write down the name of your hotel. This is so that we can give instructions to the taxi when we decide that it is time for you to leave. It is no good saying that you are staying in an hotel with a large church beside it. We have fifteen of them."

  18. TartanArmy

    Not unique

    Xavier Vanneste has it wrong. The largest brewery in Poland, Tyskie Browary Książęce, also pipes it's product through the city to it's distribution centre.

    1. BongoJoe

      Re: Not unique

      I also thought that the De Koninck brewery in Antwerpen also did this.

  19. ukgnome


    I thought Bass did this in their Burton brewing facility, Although not to this scale.

  20. Blitheringeejit


    This is encouraging - but can't boffins come up with some way of transporting BEER over an internet connection? Not only would this solve the inter-plant transport issue (using VPN) but it would also enable us to buy our own BEER directly from the brewery, by adding a sparkler tap adapter to a spare router ethernet port.

    This new technology would dispense (sic) with transporting "packets" over the network layer, and transport "bottles" instead - and there might be problems with compatibility between European brewery BEER streams (in litres) and UK router output, which would have to be in pints.

    But these are just engineering problems - surely if we can build a Large Hadron Collider, an internet-based Beer Transport Protocol shouldn't be beyond us? We could call it BTP/IP ...

    (Mine's not the one I'm nicking the wallet from in the icon...)

    1. Victor Ludorum

      Re: Infrastructure

      Not only would this solve the inter-plant transport issue (using VPN)

      Is that a Virtual Pint Network?

      1. Elmer Phud

        Re: Infrastructure

        There are protocol issues here.

        You can't transmit Guinness as fast as say, the Fosters packets.

        Would I need another plug-in for my browser to add blackcurrant or lime (or considering the space in lager packets) all the toppings can be sent at the same time and just filtered at the other end?

        What protection will consumers have from a build-up of gasses caused by many bitters?

        Will we suffer from having the sink-tap venting abut two hoours after the beer is poured?

        Can micro-breweries be connected using wet-string?

        I'm gettng thirsty - hurry up!

    2. Ben Bonsall

      Re: Infrastructure

      The problem here would be that end users would build a dodgy router that continually say the drop didn't arrive and could it be sent again...

    3. Allan George Dyer

      Re: Infrastructure

      I suspect some extension to RFC 1149 would allow beer to be transported, though you would probably need RFC 2549 for QoS to ensure the carriers were suitable for the packet size. I believe engineers at Monty Python have extensive experience in Cocos nucifera drupe loading of both African and European carriers that could be applied.

    4. Stoneshop

      Next step

      Single Malt Transfer Protocol.

  21. dotdavid

    Feasibility study

    They looked at the UK and found many towns had a similar distribution system in place for the weak tasteless lagers that can be found in many of our public houses.Unfortunately they had simply mistaken the purpose of our sewers.

  22. Riku

    Imagine the possibilities...

    An entire "EuroBeer"(tm) pipeline! Join it up with that German brewery already doing it and we've got the beginnings of true European unification. Finally, something everyone in Europe can agree on and rally around, BEER!

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge


      It's best to lay it along Ley Lines for maximum unification.

      1. Elmer Phud

        Re: Chthonic!!

        But it tends to make divining rods droop and crystals go all blurry.

        As for the fairies and Angels that use Ley Lines as air trafffic control . . .

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Chthonic!!

        "It's best to lay it along Ley Lines for maximum unification."

        No, no, no! The pipes must be layed under roads and motorways. Then we can reduce the specific gravity and all drive hover cars!

  23. Simon Harris

    De Halve Maan brewery

    Great brewery - they do a lovely tour and excellent beer.

    Brought home as much as I could carry on my last trip to Bruges

    1. Alister

      Re: De Halve Maan brewery

      Brought home as much as I could carry

      Both externally and internally...

  24. tony2heads

    prior art!

  25. Stretch

    Starting new party...

    EU Independence Party. We will start by hacking off a chunk of Kent, call it part of the EU, allowing people Human Rights and all the things the toryscum want rid of, separate from this racist, xenophobic, warmongering, foul, awful, overpriced shithole we call the "UK".

    There will be beer.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    We need a Pipetap act

    to curb man-in-the-middle attacks

  27. Velv

    Call me cynical, but why do I get a sneaking suspicion the pipe is going to suffer from a substantial number of "accidental" breakages by workman who just happened to be digging up the road near by...

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Guy's friends plumbed his house with beer as a prank:

  29. disgruntled yank

    I guess I'll unpack

    Here I thought it was a new and progressive utility, not simply a way to get beer to the bottling plant.

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