De Halve Maan to build new bottling facility in Bruges

Summary

The only brewery still existing in Bruges’ city centre plans a new €20 million bottling and packaging facility

Putting the beer pipeline to good use

The Bruges brewery De Halve Maan has announced it will invest €20 million in a new bottling facility to keep up with the growing demand for its popular Brugse Zot and Straffe Hendrik beers.

The new facility in the Waggelwater industrial area will allow the company to ratchet up its bottling capacity to 2,400 bottles and 180 barrels per hour. That’s a threefold increase on what its current bottling facility, built in 2010, is able to handle.

De Halve Maan will continue to use its old bottling facility until 2020, when the new plant should be finished. Waggelwater is in the Sint-Andries district of Bruges, just a few kilometres northwest of the brewery’s location in the city centre.

“We’ve acquired several adjoining plots in Waggelwater over the last few years,” De Halve Maan CEO Xavier Vanneste told Krant van West-Vlaanderen. “We now want to build a brand-new processing centre there with filtering, filling, bottling and packaging facilities.”

450-year history

De Halve Maan is perhaps best-known for the underground beer pipeline it built two years ago, which made international headlines. It pumps the beer from the brewery in the picturesque Walplein to its bottling plant via the pipeline. The pipeline was built to prevent tankers from having to keep manoeuvring the narrow cobblestone streets to transport the brew to the bottling facility.

The Bruges brewery has existed for more than 450 years, with the Maes family taking over in the 19th century. Fifth generation owner Véronique Maes launched Straffe Hendrik in 1981.

Vanneste, Maes’ son, was put in charge of a complete renovation and modernisation of the brewing infrastructure in 2005, the same year it launched Brugse Zot. With an annual revenue of €13 million, De Halve Maan has grown tremendously since then and today exports its beers to 40 countries.

The government of Flanders awarded a subsidy of €1 million to help construct the new bottling plant. “We see it as our task to support the innovation efforts of companies and to transition to a knowledge-based economy together,” minister-president Geert Bourgeois said in a statement, adding that family businesses like De Halve Maan are in large part responsible for Flemish jobs and the healthy economy.

Photo: Geert Bourgeois (left) congratulates Xavier Vanneste with a brewski
©Dirk Waem/BELGA