back to article Belgian brewery lays 3.2km beer pipeline

Bruges brewery De Halve Maan (The Half Moon) is about to open the valves on a €4m beer pipeline designed to carry vital supplies the 3.2km from its city centre production facility to its bottling plant. The subterranean ale conduit was the brainchild of De Halve Maan's head honcho Xavier Vanneste, who wanted a solution to the …

  1. 2+2=5 Silver badge

    Route map

    Publishing the route on a map isn't a good idea - I expect students and the like will try to tap into it on a regular basis.

    [Didn't have to think too hard about the icon though.] :-)

    1. Anonymous Blowhard

      Re: Route map

      Time to invest in a property along the route (the nearer to the brewery the better) before prices have time to go up.

      1. Oengus

        Re: Route map

        Time to invest in a property pub along the route and "Tap" into the line...


  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Polythene, you say...

    1. Roq D. Kasba

      Stronger than steel...

      ...a material we routinely cut/join/drill/etc. Hmmm

      1. harmjschoonhoven
        IT Angle

        Re: Stronger than steel...

        Hopefully they do not rely on the same contractor as the first high-speed fiberlink laid in Belgium - on the cheap. No watertight couplings were used to save time & money. That is, until they had to start digging when the first rain came.

    2. bazza Silver badge

      It makes for the strangest of pipes. You put 10,000 litres in, and only 1,000 come out the other end...

  3. Tom 7 Silver badge

    I was walking down the street one day

    in the very merry month of may

    with a diamond tipped extendible umbrella drill

    1. Vic

      Re: I was walking down the street one day

      with a diamond tipped extendible umbrella drill

      It wouldn't be the first time I've installed a Vampire Tap...


  4. Captain Scarlet

    Have the Simpsons done that?

    As the Simpsons have done everything I wonder if the Duff Factory has such a pipeline and how they repel Barney.

    1. chivo243 Silver badge

      Re: Have the Simpsons done that?

      I've not seen this on The Simpsons, however there was an episode where the clientele at Moe's were asked:

      "I need someone to help me with the midnight beer delivery. Your job is to distract Barney until it's safely off the truck."

    2. GreggS

      Re: Have the Simpsons done that?

      They did, it was in Homer v the Eighteenth Amendment. Pipes carried bowling balls filled with beer into Moe's..

      1. chivo243 Silver badge

        Re: Have the Simpsons done that?

        and Mint Juleps too! ...but they were bowling gutters, not pipes piping the suds into Moe's.

        Are you the blind tiger jerking suds on the side?

    3. bazza Silver badge

      Re: Have the Simpsons done that?

      The Brewery Tap pub in Abingdon, UK was reputed to have a direct connection to the (now sadly closed) Morlands Brewery right next door.

      1. ButlerInstitute

        Re: Have the Simpsons done that?

        Likewise the Brewer on the Bridge in Sheffield, next to Whitbread's brewery.

        A while ago though. The brewery is no longer there. And the pub was probably not called that for long (possibly formerly the Lady's Bridge Inn), if it's even still there.

        And if anyone's thinking Whitbread don't count as proper beer, if my memory serves the beer in question was Gold Label (barley wine), at one time the strongest regularly brewed beer in the UK, at nearly 11%.

  5. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese

    Go visit

    Bruges is one of my favourite places in the world, and the brewery tour at De Halve Maan is reason in itself to visit. If you haven't been, then you really should go.

    Don't bother with the Chip museum though - it's deeply, deeply tragic.

    1. KroSha

      Re: Go visit

      I went there for my stag. Brilliant place for a visit, and the Zot is very nice.

    2. smudge

      Re: Go visit

      Yup - we did the brewery tour. The woman guide was brilliant - completely dry humour. "Before you start drinking in our bar, you will write down the name of your hotel on a piece of paper. This is so we can put you into a taxi when we decide that it is time for you to go. Do not say "the hotel next to the big church". We have sixteen of them. "

      We were there in 2012 to avoid the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations in the UK. This weekend the UK will be celebrating her 90th birthday - and Mrs Smudge and I will be in Norway.

  6. ukgnome

    A beer pipeline isn't new - Bass Taverns (as they were way back when) had one.But not on this scale.

    1. TRT Silver badge

      This one has a lager capacity.

      1. lglethal Silver badge

        It certainly carries the fix for whatever ales you.

  7. GreggS

    I really wouldn't like to be cleaning those pipes!

    1. Cornholio

      Given the horror stories I've heard about dirty pipes between cellar and pump, I'd love to hear about how they're going to keep that one clean. Which I'm sure they will, of course.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Presumably pump beer line cleaner through it every so often ( every week? ).

        1. Fibbles

          The length of the pipe means that using line cleaner is going to be tricky. The stuff used by pubs is corrosive (and actually has to be very heavily diluted). If you leave it in the line too long it'll cause the inside to become pocked. The pocking causes the build up of biofilms to happen more rapidly meaning you have to clean more often.

          A line that is kilometres long is going to take quite a while to flush through.

          1. Lester Haines (Written by Reg staff) Gold badge

            I have it on good authority that they're going to strap abrasive pads to a cat and push it through using a really long flexible pole.

            That may not actually be true, but it's a pleasing thought.

            1. Dr. Mouse

              "I have it on good authority that they're going to strap abrasive pads to a cat and push it through using a really long flexible pole."

              Having attempted to use a cat for cleaning purposes before, I can attest that it is not the best idea in the world (no matter how fun it sounds!)

              Although, I did have a cat who enjoyed being pushed around at the end of a mop, until I soaked the end of it and he got drenched. He didn't like it anymore after that, or me...

            2. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

              Any civil engineer who did the coursework on sanitary engineering will tell you that there is a special breed of dog for jobs like that, the sewer hound. Looks a bit like a cross between a dachshound and a bottle brush - long, slim body, short legs, very long and very bushy tail.

            3. Mark 85 Silver badge

              I have it on good authority that they're going to strap abrasive pads to a cat and push it through using a really long flexible pole.

              Not another damn cat video in the offing, is there? Say it ain't so....

            4. Ripper38

              I am shocked

              that you would think of using cats.... poodles have a much better track record for this sort of job!

          2. itzman

            Beer is antiseptic and normally contains no depositable solids

            The beer will clean the pipe

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              If you've ever drank in a pub that can't be arsed cleaning their pipes every week, you'll know that's not true.

              ( You're supposed to clean beer lines every week, or maybe every two, I can't remember )

            2. Fibbles

              The alcohol content if beer isn't anywhere near high enough to be antiseptic. Beer is basically liquid bread and is a perfect breeding ground for all sorts of micro-organisms.

              Presumably you've heard the old tale that people used to make beer because it was safer than drinking the water. However, this is because part of the brewing process involves boiling the water, not because the beer contains alcohol.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                The hops have antiseptic properties, which is why India Pale Ale was heavily hopped - so it could survive the long voyage to India.

                Apparently those properties are strong enough that you don't have to pre-boil hops to sterilise when dry-hopping ( which is when you add some hops to an already fermenting beer in order to add aroma ).

                1. Jos V


                  Late to respond here, but from the Washington Post on this pipeline:

                  "It’s cleaned by pumping water and cleaning solution through the pipeline between each batch of beer."

              2. Dr. Mouse

                However, this is because part of the brewing process involves boiling the water, not because the beer contains alcohol.

                It is also because an infection will often turn the beer, and this causes a noticable change in taste. Therefore the drinker (or, if they are doing it right, the publican) will know, on first sip, that the beer should not be drunk.

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      At 3.2KM long, how much beer would they lose every time they clean the pipe?

  8. TRT Silver badge

    Taking a leaf from the London Underground...

    it will be named The Princess Margaret Line.

    1. itzman

      Re: Taking a leaf from the London Underground...

      Farage Undeground Line (east)

  9. Paul Renault

    Beer Bridge Burrowed Beneath Bruges!

    / sleeping on the job, eh.

  10. Whiskers

    How many pints?

    How many pints does the pipe hold, and is it only one sort of beer at a time or are there multiple tubes for different brews to be moved in parallel? And is this any way to treat beer?

    Enquiring minds want to know.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: How many pints?

      €300k seems cheap too. Is that accurate?

      1. lglethal Silver badge

        Re: How many pints?

        My guess is that 300k was raised on kickstarter, plus whatever amount they are putting in as well (probably 300k as well), plus whatever the Council would be kicking in to get great big beer trucks off the local streets.

        I may be wrong though...

      2. Vinyl-Junkie

        Re: How many pints?


        I'm guessing you didn't read this bit: "about to open the valves on a €4m beer pipeline"

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What about the beer warming as it travels, causing it to expel the CO2? It'll come out the pipe as a flat, frothy mess, surely?

    Or will they all extract the CO2 first?

    1. AndyS

      Normally, beer is brewed flat (it's not brewed under pressure - all beer is reasonably flat as it is brewed). Commercial beer is then sterilised, then put into kegs or bottles and artificially pressurised with CO2.

      Home-brew, and some smaller (especially micro) breweries add a small amount of sugar at the bottling or kegging stage, without sterilising, to kick the yeast back into action, and produce enough CO2 to pressurise it and get it to the right fizzyness.

      I would dread to think what the pipeline would look like after a few days if there was live yeast still in the beer, so I assume it is filtered and sterilised first. Residual small amounts of CO2 could easily be kept in solution by a small amount of pressure in the line.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        When the beer is brewed, there is a fair bit of Co2 in suspension. Not enough for drinking, but probably enough to cause fobbing.

        ( I make my own beer, so I know the process. I've had endless problems with fobbing between my refridgerated cornie's and tap, I'm sure these guys know what they're doing though - I was just asking what )

        1. Roq D. Kasba

          The best beers are never carbonated or pasteurised or super-chilled. All that business is about avoiding flavour ;-)

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            If you're talking about real ales, they do contain Co2. They're just not force-carbonated ( by pressure ).

  12. stucs201


    1. glen waverley

      Re: XKCD...

      To my surprise, xkcd lists cheese as a liquid.

      1. Roq D. Kasba

        Re: XKCD...

        American cheese. 'nuff said.

      2. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

        Re: XKCD...

        To my surprise, xkcd lists cheese as a liquid

        In my experience, with a good Camembert that is simply a matter of time..

  13. Colin Bull 1

    been done before

    Have got a friend in Villamoura Portugal who has got 3 x 1000 litre tanks in an underground cellar for bulk deliveries then a pipeline under road to bar. The only kegs are the ones for the bulk gin.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Excellent timing..

    I could NOT have asked for a better birthday present :).

    However, I must plan ahead. This is in a country where the water supply comes into houses at such a pressure that in its regulated down form it still hits 6 bar (87 PSI). In the UK it tends to average at approx 0,7 bar (10 PSI), but it's easier illustrated: a fully flushed toilet water reservoir refills in under a minute :).

    It thus stands to reason that that pipe isn't going to be subtle about pressure either, and making a hole may result in a flow of beer that even a born and bred Glaswegian cannot keep up with.

    But it would be fun to try :)

  15. ccc13481

    Beer pipeline

    A beer pipeline has been used since '93 in Randers, Denmark from the(then active) local brewery to 8 pubs. It has since been replace with storage tanks as central storage.

  16. Simon Harris

    1% complete...

    now I'm just waiting for the remaining 99% of the pipeline to be laid to my house.

  17. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

    The 'Veltins Arena', home of FC Schalke '04, has about 5 km of beer pipelines from a central storage tank to the various outlets.

  18. Baldy50


    Brewery next to bottling factory! and then use different trucks down all those little streets to get it to the bars.

    Lived near a brewery once and it really did pong at times.


    1. Mat 6

      Re: location,Location,Location!

      De Halve Maan is the last brewery left inside the historic city limits of Brugge and make a big deal of this in their advertising. Strangely as central Brugge is a UNESCO World Heritage Centre they were reluctant to allow a modern bottling plant to be built next to the brewery. Solution, build the plant outside the city with the rest of the light industry and take the beer to the plant.

      I recommend trying the Straffe Hendrik Quadruple 11% ABV and extremely drinkable

  19. kain preacher

    Wait you Brits get beer pipped to your house ? I envy you.

    1. Dwarf Silver badge

      Beer !

      I get beer piped to my house.

      They bring it in boxes full of bottles that nearly fill up one glass

  20. Trumpet Winsock IIIrd

    Beer at Home means Davenports

    As a nipper growing up in Birmingham we had daily deliveries from the Milkman and the Baker, a weekly delivery of pop from the Corona van, plus a weekly delivery of Beer from the Davenports van.

    I can still recite the advertising Jingle

  21. WibbleMe

    Burton-On-Trent have a beer pipe line in the 1900 strait to its local pubs

  22. Winkypop Silver badge

    Beer pipeline?

    Heaven will be like that

    1. Francis Boyle

      Re: Beer pipeline?

      Time to create a splinter sect of Pastafarianism. I've always thought that a beer volcano was a terrible waste.

  23. MrDamage

    Time to invest

    In a jackhammer, and some pretzels.

  24. David Roberts

    Local utility companies?

    If they are anything like the UK they will be straight through the pipe within a year.

  25. Securitymoose

    You wouldn't want the first pint of the day out of that now would you...

    ...considering how tricky it is for some pubs to get a decent pint up from the cellar. Still, it will only be lager, so how will anyone tell?

  26. huaptec

    I envy your guys, like that

  27. JQW

    There used to be a vinegar pipeline in Birmingham which ran between two HP sauce factories. To do so it had to cross over the Aston Expressway - i.e. the A38(M) - and was hidden inside one of the overhead gantries carrying matrix signs.

    See here for a photo -

    1. hplasm

      There is a vinegar factory-

      next to the JW Lees brewery in Manchester oop North.

      There is probably a pipeline between them, but as a non-fan of JWL beer*, I hesitate to say which way the flow goes...

      *The bitter is good on chips.

  28. cray74

    Stronger than Steel?

    ...planning just how to tap the polyethylene pipe, Vanneste said this would prove "impossible", rating the tube as "stronger than steel".


    Highly-oriented polyethylene fibers (e.g., Spectra) may have tensile strengths in excess of 200,000psi (1.4 GPa), which exceeds most steels (everyday steels stay below 100,000psi, but the range of steels is about 40,000 to 350,000psi, 276MPa - 2.4GPa).

    But polyethylene pipes aren't made out of Spectra. They have tensile strengths around 3200psi (22MPa) for high density polyethylene. Further, they're very soft regardless of strength - 75,000psi carbon steel scissors would cut 200,000psi Spectra fibers all day long without dulling.

    The pipe isn't stronger than steel, and any steel cutting tool would have an easy time tapping the pipe.

    That said, I noticed some comments about cleaning the pipe: polyethylene is a good choice in this application because it is highly resistant to most cleaning chemicals (and beer). The smooth surface of polyethylene piping makes it a poor substrate for fungal or bacterial growth. The downside is that abrasive cleaning is not recommended because that will wear and scuff the surface of the pipe, eroding it easily.

  29. Alan J. Wylie

    Even better than the vinegar pipeline over the A38(M)

    End of an era as HP factory closes

    [Reminisces] - 20+ years ago I worked on the functional specification for the lane control system on the A38(M).

    1. David Nash

      Re: Even better than the vinegar pipeline over the A38(M)

      Must have been 20+ with an emphasis on the plus, because I am sure it was there when I started university at Aston in 1987.

  30. x 7

    I feel sorry for the poor bastard who has to pull the have enough muscle she'd need a 96" DDDDD chest measurement

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