05:45:17 pm on
Monday 22 Jul 2024

Beer Pipeline
David Simmonds

It’s been a good month for beer.

Running the Appalachian Trail.

Karl Meltzer, on his third attempt, has set a new record for running the 3,524 kilometre long Appalachian Trail. His time of 45 days, 22 hours and 38 minutes, eclipsed the previous record by some nine hours. That works out to more than 75 kilometres a day.

What is notable about the feat, apart from the very idea of it, is the training regime involved. The previous record holder trained on a vegan diet. Meltzer ended each his daily run by downing one or two bottles of beer. He celebrated getting the record with pepperoni pizza and beer.

Is this a coincidence? I don’t think so.

If beer is the fuel that pushes the ultra-endurance athlete over the top, just think what it can do for the average couch potato whose idea of exercise is a stiff walk around the block, some other day. No scientific evidence required; you just have to use Mr. Meltzer as Exhibit A.

A beer pipeline is more viable, for Canada, than is an oil pipeline.

On another front, the first beer pipeline, in the world, has opened, the City of Bruges, Belgium. That’s right: a beer pipeline. Bruges is a UNESCO World Heritage site, with narrow cobblestoned streets built before the advent of both tourists and beer trucks.

Something had to give if one of the s oldest breweries, in Belgium, De Halve Maan, meaning The Half Moon, which sounds better untranslated, was to continue brewing in the centre of old Bruges, whereas its bottling plant sat in the outskirts of the city. The solution was an underground pipeline connecting the two locations. Some 3,780 litres of beer now flow through the pipeline every hour, 24 hours a day, which visible to interested observers through a transparent manhole cover in the city centre.

The pipeline was a brainwave. “We got the idea from looking at other life provisions that run through pipes,” said the brewery’s director, Xavier Vanneste. “Water pipes, electricity pipes, cable distribution and so forth. Why wouldn’t that be possible for beer?” The brewery convinced an initially reluctant municipal government to sanction a privately owned pipeline. Yet, it then faced an even bigger challenge: raising almost $6 million to build it.  

How did it manage their task? Simple: it went to the internet and started a crowd funding campaign, with a too-good-to-be-true inducement of “free beer for life.” Some 500 people bought in and duly rewarded. Smaller investors are to get a bottle of beer on their birthdays; bigger investors will get a bottle of beer a day. I am not sure if delivery is included.

Perhaps a beer pipeline could just be the solution to a Canadian problem. The Energy East project is a yet to be approved 4,500 kilometre line, intended to transport over a million barrels of oil, a day, to refineries in Eastern Canada and a marine terminal in New Brunswick. The project is highly contentious.

What if the pipeline didn’t carry oil but instead carried beer and the refineries became breweries? Who would object to that? Beer is less likely than oil to cause an environmental disaster and, I know, a number of people who would be prepared to help clean up a spill, even at some risk to their personal digestive health.

Would the pipeline carry lager or ale or alternate?

Admittedly, there would be a few knots to untangle. Would the pipeline carry only lager beer to the exclusion of pale ale? Could the pipeline alternate lager and ale, if so, how frequently? Would it be able to carry craft beer? Would beer flow west to east or east to west? How sabotage or piracy be handled? Think of the opportunity the pipeline route would provide for ultra-endurance runners bored by the challenge of running the much shorter Appalachian Trail.

If the ‘beer for oil’ pipeline idea won’t fly, perhaps there is room for the County to get in on the action. Why doesn’t Wellington, the soon-to-be home of a downtown brewpub, build first beer pipeline, in North America, alongside Lane Creek, which is ready for digging, anyway? Install a transparent manhole cover near the corner of Wharf Street and Main Street so that visitors could gaze at the wondrous sight. Even if it cost a lot of money to build, all you’d have to do is say, “free beer for life,” and investors would come running, albeit a little more slowly than Karl Meltzer, but dutifully following his training regime.


Some readers seem intent on nullifying the authority of David Simmonds. The critics are so intense; Simmonds is cast as more scoundrel than scamp. He is, in fact, a Canadian writer of much wit and wisdom. Simmonds writes strong prose, not infrequently laced with savage humour. He dissects, in a cheeky way, what some think sacrosanct. His wit refuses to allow the absurdities of life to move along, nicely, without comment. What Simmonds writes frightens some readers. He doesn't court the ineffectual. Those he scares off are the same ones that will not understand his writing. Satire is not for sissies. The wit of David Simmonds skewers societal vanities, the self-important and their follies as well as the madness of tyrants. He never targets the outcasts or the marginalised; when he goes for a jugular, its blood is blue. David Simmonds, by nurture, is a lawyer. By nature, he is a perceptive writer, with a gimlet eye, a superb folk singer, lyricist and composer. He believes quirkiness is universal; this is his focus and the base of his creativity. "If my humour hurts," says Simmonds,"it's after the stiletto comes out." He's an urban satirist on par with Pete Hamill and Mike Barnacle; the late Jimmy Breslin and Mike Rokyo and, increasingly, Dorothy Parker. He writes from and often about the village of Wellington, Ontario. Simmonds also writes for the Wellington "Times," in Wellington, Ontario.

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