Belgian Brewery Taps Community to Fund 2-Mile Pipeline to Bring Beer Into City

The pipeline will pump beer at around 1,057 gallons per hour.

— -- A brewery in Belgium is installing a two-mile-long underground pipeline to transport fresh beer from the bottling plant to the pub, a first-of-its-kind feat that was crowdfunded by the community.

De Halve Maan, a centuries-old local watering hole in Bruges, faced a predicament. "A couple of years ago we decided to build a bottling plant outside of the town, and, of course, the question is, how can you bring the beer over to the brewery from the bottling plant?" Xavier Vanneste, the owner of De Halve Maan, told ABC News.

De Halve Maan has been in Vanneste's family for 150 years, and he is a sixth generation brewer.

Vanneste explained that they initially used big tanker trucks to bring the beer in, a method that proved ineffective thanks to Bruges' narrow, cobblestoned streets. The trucks also raised environmental concerns, Vanneste said.

"We were always dreaming about having this pipeline, people were joking and saying it's a crazy idea, until the moment a couple of years ago that we realized it was not a joke at all, that it was possible to do this,” he said.

Vanneste said they coordinated with a series of special engineers and began construction in December 2015.

The pipeline will run two miles underground, bringing fresh beer from the bottling plant outside of the city to the restaurant, pub and brewery in the city's center.

"It goes under the canals, under the roads, under big traffic points," Vanneste said, "We were not allowed to pass under private houses, but we could go under public roads."

Such innovation came with a hefty price tag, but Vanneste and his team turned to the community for help, crowdfunding the cost of construction and rewarding participants with free beer upon completion.

"The cost was about 4 million euros," Vanneste said. "One of the challenges was, of course, to find the money, that is why we launched the crowdfunding project last year, so we gave the people the possibility to participate."

He added: "We ended up [being] the biggest crowdfunding operation ever done before in Belgium. It moved a lot of hearts; it attracted a lot of people. We rewarded them with a lifetime of beer."

The pipeline is near completion and set to be operational within a few months. It will pump beer at a rate of 4,000 liters (about 1,057 gallons) per hour, according to Vanneste.

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