Under the streets of Bruges, beer is flowing. Two miles long, a pipeline connects the De Halve Maan brewery to its bottling facility outside of town. Without the pipeline, hundreds of trucks would have been making congested city traffic worse.
The pipeline route:
At first thinking they just had a funny idea, the firm’s owners soon realized a pipeline would save them time and money. To help raise $4.5 million, they used Kickstarter’s crowdfunding and the promise of a lifetime of beer:
- For €7500 or more you would get a daily bottle of Brugse Zot Blond beer during your entire life plus 18 personalized glasses . (By living 10 more years, these “investors” were way ahead.)
- In return for €800, a 24 bottle-case would be sent yearly for life.
- At the €220 level, one 25-ounce bottle of beer would be sent each year for life.
Good for preserving taste and strong enough to avoid siphoning drills, high-density polyethylene was used to fabricate the pipes. To prevent an overdose of pumped air from distorting flavor, the beer had to travel at a leisurely pace. And still, they had to figure out how to carry different kinds of beer, occasionally some water, and implement sterilization procedures.
Next, to the firm’s quality concerns we should add that Bruges is a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its priceless medieval architecture. Drilling and placing the pipeline, De Halve Maan had to be very careful.
Our Bottom Line: Capital
Whether you are moving beer or water or oil, a pipeline demonstrates the value of capital. No, not the money kind of capital. Here we mean the capital that, with land and labor, is a factor of production. As a factor of production, capital can save time, increase knowledge and increase output.
Even for beer, capital is the ingredient everyone needs for growth.
My sources and more: Although there were many articles that described the beer pipeline, this one from WSJ, had the best title (“Brewery Builds a Pipeline, Sending Beer Lovers Into a Froth”). Also, Wired explained some of the technical details two years ago and added updates while the company website had the details on the Kickstarter campaign.