Rockford Could Learn a Thing or Two From Bruges, Belgium
Rockford and the city of Bruges (pronounced "Brooj"), Belgium have something in common. Both our cities love beer. Both our cities also have in-town brewers who make incredibly good beer. However, Bruges has made an interesting move to get the beer from the local brewers to every tap in town. They've installed a "beer pipeline."
About 15 years ago, while travelling in Belgium, I was lucky enough to spend a day in Bruges. I've got to tell you, if you ever find yourself in that part of the world, don't pass up the opportunity to visit Bruges. Not familiar with Bruges?
If you set out to design a fairy-tale medieval town, it would be hard to improve on central Bruges (Brugge in Dutch). Picturesque cobbled lanes and dreamy canals link photogenic market squares lined with soaring towers, historic churches and old whitewashed almshouses. And there’s plenty of it. The only downside is that everyone knows. That means that there’s a constant crush of tourists in the centre, especially through the summer months. So to really enjoy Bruges stay overnight (day trippers miss the fabulous evening floodlighting) and try to visit midweek (avoiding floods of weekend visitors). There’s a special charm in spring when daffodils carpet the tranquil courtyard of the historic begijnhof retreat, or in winter (except Christmas) when you can have the magnificent, if icy, town almost to yourself.
Truthfully, that glowing description of Bruges is actually an understatement. I found Bruges to be just glorious. Being there is almost like stepping out of a time machine that's transported you back to 15th century Europe.
Since Bruges resembles the medieval town it once was, it stands to reason that its streets are narrow cobblestone that twist and turn throughout, making navigation by car or truck somewhat challenging. The local brewers there, tired of the difficult slog involved in delivering their brews, came up with a unique solution that not only takes care of the beer-truck delivery problem, it also protects their ancient streets and alleyways.
They built a beer pipeline. Part crowdfunded and costing a total of four million euros, the new pipeline means hundreds of truck trips a year will no longer be necessary:
Rockford brewers, we're looking at you. If you build it...we will drink.