A beer pipeline to help relieve congestion in Bruges

The city council of Bruges has approved a beer pipeline that will cut down truck traffic from a brewery shipping beer to the city center:

In the years since the De Halve Maan brewery opened a bottling facility outside Bruges in 2010, the company’s faced a tricky logistics problem. It still brews beer at its original site downtown, just as it has for nearly five centuries. To get all that delicious beer to the new factory for filtration, bottling, and shipping, it uses trucks. Trucks that burn fuel, spew carbon and clog the city’s cobblestone streets (which surely froths all that beer).

No more. The city council has approved the brewery’s unusual but clever plan to save time and money while reducing emissions and congestion. It will build a pipeline to ferry the good stuff across town, underground. Yes, you read that right: A beer pipeline.

Instead of making the 3-mile drive in one of dozens of tankers that traverse town each day, the award-winning beer will flow through a 1.8-mile polyethylene pipeline, making the trip in 15 to 20 minutes. The pipeline will move 6,000 liters of beer every hour, De Halve Man CEO Xavier Vanneste told Het Nieuwsblad.

As CityLab points out, Cleveland’s Great Lakes Brewing Company uses underground tubes to move beer between its brewery and its pub, across the street. But this is a longer journey, one with real environmental consequences, and the Belgian pipeline surely will have a bigger impact in terms of reducing traffic and carbon emissions. “In time, this innovative investment plan would reduce the amount of transport by heavy goods vehicles by 85 percent,” says 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.”

A fascinating solution. Indeed, I expect there will be a lot of efforts in the years ahead to try to limit congestion through all sorts of means like piplines or drones or new means that haven’t yet been tried. And I imagine such an unusual feature could be used to attract tourists. Perhaps the pipeline could have an ongoing “leak” where people could get a small amount for a fee?

This idea makes me think of The Simpsons episode from eighth season titled “Homer vs. the Eighteenth Amendment.” Operating as the Beer Baron, Homer has a Rube Goldberg-esque pipeline that connects the alcohol production facility to the bowling alley where the illicit booze is delivered in bowling balls. I’m sure the pipeline in Bruges will be more efficient and has the benefit of the blessing of the local government.

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