16 April 2024

Brewery De Halve Maan opens renewed beer experience 2.0

Brewery De Halve Maan was one of the very first breweries in the country to open its doors to the public. When the Maes family opened the brewery in the 1980s, it was remarkable as the somewhat outdated industrial patrimony at the time was not at all equipped to receive visitors. Nevertheless, the industrial-archaeological complex has a unique heritage value, which charms visitors from Belgium and abroad. Meanwhile, the brewery has become one of the main tourist attractions of Bruges, with more than 125,000 visitors a year being immersed in the unique world of malt and hops. It’s among one of the most popular private attractions in Bruges.

Almost 40 years later, the brewery family is now investing another 750,000 euros in the renovation of the brewery's visitor centre. Besides a complete overhaul, some ultra-modern digital techniques will be added to the tour: these include an immersive area, where visitors will be introduced to the famous underground beer pipeline and the bottling plant through a virtual experience. Visitors will enjoy an even more intense experience of the story of Brugse Zot. In addition, the beer experience will also be made more accessible for people with physical disabilities. It’s a conscious choice to keep the visit personal: people are still led around by guides, so it will remain an experience that’s different for everyone.That said, state-of-the-art audiovisual techniques will be integrated into the visit, allowing visitors to enjoy a total experience.  

All this is made possible by the aid of several governments supporting the brewery in this renewal process. First of all, there is the Flemish Government that gave the tourism (beer) sector a boost after the difficult corona period, with relaunch support for 80 tourism projects. The government specifically chose to invest in the beer sector, to further perpetuate the historical value and rich brewing traditions for the future, and to make this a key point in the tourist offer. De Halve Maan received 300,000 euros support from the Flemish Government to renew and upgrade its beer experience.

The province of West Flanders also supported the brewery with a subsidy for experience concepts at museums and attractions within the regulations 'Beleef West-Vlaanderen'. This is how the provincial government boosts the tourist offer in the province. The support allows the company to further develop and update its visitor centre.

The beer experience 2.0 that De Halve Maan now presents is unique in the brewing world. It combines the experience of an up-to-date and modern brewery, but also the charm of the historic centuries-old brewery. The tour starts in the middle of the current brewing hall, where Brugse Zot, Brugs Tarwerbier and Straffe Hendrik are brewed today: visitors literally stand between the kettles and can follow the production with all their senses. Further into the tour, visitors pass through the historic and museum part of the brewery, where they get an insight into how the brewing craft evolved. It gives a unique insight into the evolution of the industrial revolution. Obviously, the visit ends with a tasting of the Brugse Zot or Straffe Hendrik beers.  

At De Halve Maan, one gets to see real heritage... One does not visit a dull museum, but an active brewery where state-of-the-art technology is set against industrial-archaeological gems that reveal a rich history.

The investment in the new beer experience 2.0 is accompanied by a new step towards sustainability. The brewery has already been in the news several times in recent years with innovative investments in sustainability. In fact, De Halve Maan was one of the first brewers to co-sign the Green Deal with the Flemish government in 2018. The best-known and most imaginative investment was certainly the construction of the underground beer pipeline. In recent years, we also invested heavily in water treatment plants, solar panels, biogas plants, etc. Since then, the brewery managed to reduce its carbon footprint per litre of beer.
Now the brewery plans to make additional sustainability investments at the historic Walplein site. A unique regeneration system will now recover residual heat from wastewater streams. This residual heat will be used to heat the visitor centre buildings, offices and surrounding homes. The renewed visitor centre will thus also become an eco-friendly beer experience.

Furthermore, Brewery De Halve Maan also reached an agreement  with the City of Bruges concerning the construction of a heat network that will heat the future renovated Begijnhof and old Minnewater Hospital. Thanks to the brewery's ecological investments, these future projects of Stad Brugge will benefit from green energy. For the construction of the heat network, underground pipes will again be laid: not for beer this time, but for a heat network. De Halve Maan is proud to contribute to the climate neutrality of the city and the sustainability of its processes.
The opening of Brewery De Halve Maan's renewed beer experience 2.0 will take place on Monday evening 15 April. The beer experience will be officially inaugurated by Flemish Prime Minister Jan Jambon, in the presence of Deputy Sabien Lahaye-Battheu and Mayor Dirk De Fauw.