Brugge and its Beer Pipeline has made the front page of the New York Times — wow! It is the first time a beer has been sent under streets and canals like electricity to a bottling facility outside the historic Brugge centrum walls. Now if you donated to this project (depending of course on your amount) you receive a 6-pack on your birthday or a beer a day for the rest of your life — imagine! At home in America in my day beer drinking time was summer or during sports programs on TV, but beer drinking time is all the time in Belgium with 100s of types of beers brewed in family and monastery breweries all over the country. The fascinating array of beer bottles in the shop windows is truly staggering! This a traditional product, so to Brugge and its own particular beer: Brugse Zot.
“What’s in a name?” said Shakespeare. A lot, it turns out in Brugge. Maximillian of Austria was an unpopular monarch and was imprisoned in 1488 in Brugge for four months! In revenge, he forbade all festivals and celebrations. The Bruggelings then requested money to build a mental hospital and his response was simply, “Brugge is already filled with fools, simply close the gates of the city!” De halve Maan Brewery nicknamed the beer brewed within the town walls Brugse Zot: ‘Crazy Brugge’. The icon of the beer is one of those funny jester hats with 6 points (red and green) that bob around when the jester dances; this icon is on every glass serving Brugse Zot in Brugge.
Our own De halve Maan brewery is possibly the most visited tourist attraction outside of the squares and churches in Brugge. I have been stopped more than once in the street for directions. It is in the small plein/square around the corner from the Beguinnage. The newest, and the most curious, news about Brugse Zot is its mode of transport, heralded on the NYT front page. A few months back I noticed large wide green circular tubes lying on top of the water in the canal outside the Beguinnage walls. There was this green tubing along with all the swans and ducks. I think I thought it must be some new kind of sewage disposal system. NO! It is a new beer transport system! The Brugse Zot is brewed at De halve Maan inside the walls and there is no room for expansion in closely built 14th century row houses so the beer has to journey outside the old city walls to the new bottling facility. As of Friday, the beer is now traveling in the green tubes laid beneath the water just like electricity and plumbing! Now I have heard everything! I chuckle… Maybe Maxmilian of Austria was right: Brugge is Zot!