Taps: 8 / Bottles: 600
Cask: N / Beer-to-Go: Y
Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 96 | Reviews: 92 | Show All Ratings:
Reviews by the Alström Bros:
4.94/5 rDev +7.2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5
Kulminator has been around since the late 70's and is nearly worth a trip to Belgium on its own, and a must stop if you are in Antwerp. Although it's small inside, it boasts some 700+ beers available to the public (hundreds of which are vintages) and thousands of bottles of surplus in the private cellar and cool rooms dating back to the 1970's. And, you'll find about 6+ beers on tap ... everything else is in the bottle. I found the beer to be cheap to very reasonable in price, ranging from new beers to obsolete to vintage. Ah ... and 1982 Stille Nacht, first year, with a collectors label that the owner of the Kulm soaked off and mounted on a coaster for me ... for a mere $4+ US.Hell yeah!!
Atmosphere-wise it's quite warm, charming and extremely inviting. The owners will warm up to you after they've seen your face a few times and engaged in some conversation. Same goes for the two dogs and two cats that hang out all day. Note that like most beer bars and cafes in Europe, this place can get a bit smoky. Food-wise, there's really no food, but they do offer meat (aka SPAM) and cheese plates to much on. Best time to hit this place is in the late afternoon ... less smoke, less people.
By far one of the best beer bars in Belgium, and a contender for one of the best in the world.
12-26-2002 19:35:47 | More by Todd
4.6/5 rDev -0.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | $$
Just the sheer number of beers and appropriate glassware gives this place a top rating for me. The snacks were fine, but the are just there to keep the stomach and alcohol level in the blood in check. The catalog was just the beginning, the owner said he had roughly 600 beers he could serve at any point, not including the vintage beers, obscure beers that have been discontinued and beers that are not in the front of his mind. There is no short visit here unless you are looking for a quick glass of tap beer at the bar not much of a bar as it holds about six people tightly. Small and quaint, a hidden jewel and oddly half the locals have never heard of them before.
12-19-2002 20:20:57 | More by Jason
More User Reviews:
4.62/5 rDev +0.2%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4.25 | selection: 5 | $$
A-The Kulminator is located near central Antwerp on a lesser traveled street not far from one of the city's smaller squares. The place is a bit like something out of Harry Potter; it is cramped feeling with boxes and books stacked up here and there, plants spilling over everywhere, and a slightly off-kilter feel to the whole thing. The front room is small, and while there is a back patio, it looks small, as well. The vibe seems to work, however...at least it did when we visited on a cool Wednesday afternoon soon after opening. I don't know if I would be too pleased on a hot and crowded day in July.
Q-The bottle list here is simply incredible. I'll repeat what others have already said: the bottle list has to been seen and sampled to be believed. I suppose you might disappointed if you were looking for American craft, but the list of high-quality Belgians is unreal.
Ser-Dirk (Derk?) and his wife were working when we stopped in. While both were friendly and (obviously) knowledgeable, Dirk forgot to get my Aardmonik from the cellar after I had ordered, so I sat there for ten minutes enjoying the strangeness of my surroundings and longing for my beer.
Sel-The bottle list pretty much speaks for itself. It is at least a dozen pages long. Unreal.
V-Prices were in line with other spots in Antwerpen. I didn't do an exhaustive search, but many of the vintage brews on the list that I spot-checked also seemed well-priced given the age and rarity.
O-This place is well worth the visit, and not just for the bottle list, but for the whole experience. There are not many authentic-feeling places like this on earth and since I understand that Dirk may be retiring soon, you better make your visit quickly if you want to experience the Kulminator in full glory.
05-30-2013 02:44:32 | More by spoony
4.6/5 rDev -0.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | $$$
After a day with a medieval castle and a canal tour in Ghent, we headed to Antwerp to spend the night and drink at the Kulminator, a world class bar with free roam cats--perfect. Or, so we thought. Easy walk from our hotel in the historic heart of Antwerp, which was terribly confusing to drive. I would take a train next time. Entering the bar, it may be the highest density of beer I've ever seen. Taking a seat in the back patio, it was hard to decide what to drink. Just so many beers to chose from that it can be paralyzing.
So I started in familiar territory and ordered a La Trappe Quadruple. This 1995 bottle was poured hard at the table without a decant. Small bottle. Head falls flat quickly and there was only the faintest pop on the cap. Dusty, dirty bottle with a label style that I haven't seen before. Musty, oxidized cherry and port like flavors. The normal oiliness and full flavor has dissipated. Lighter bodied, as if the yeast had thinned it out. Alcohol not apparent either. Interesting but I won't let quad bottles at home go this long.
Then, so I could justify being at the Kulminator, I ordered an Evolution of Chimay bottles: 1992. 2002 and 2012. Very fun side by side tasting, including the oldest aged beer that I've ever had at a 20 year old Chimay. The young Chimay is fresh, but the better than adequate beer that I've always thought it to be. It doesn't match up La Trappe for me. The 10 year version is showing some signs of age with clear cherry and port notes from oxidation and the alcohol is apparent in the nose. The 20 year old is very flat though a small head appeared briefly on the hard pour and the oxidation of the 10 year old is in full bloom in the 20. Comparing similarly aged bottles really made the differences from the cellar clear and apparent; it pulled together years of tastings from my own cellar. On a learning level, very worth the trip. It's an extraordinary experience without having to wait for 20 years in my own cellar.
Kulminator in a fine place with an amazing list. However, I will never return during the summer, particularly to avoid the gnats lurking the plants and the uncomfortable lack of air conditioning. The bar is hot and the beer served at room temperature, which affects the aging process. Today is clearly beyond any recommended temperature for aging. I'm not sure where the bottles are coming from but it seems to be just from the shelf; the bottles are clearly room temp on sweltering day. And, no kittens for most of the stop. They made a late appearance and were not very friendly.
Returning to our hotel the Hilton Antwerp, the AC was not keeping up, so we moved to a colder room. While walking, the desk clerk said it was the hottest weekend since 1994. Talk about hitting a bad day at an open air beer bar. With a beer geek dream of a cellar, I see why it's so revered but it's not my favorite bar. I would happily prefer a day at 't Arendsnest in Amsterdam, the former Brickskeller in DC or Rattle-n-Hum in New York. Another day, another time, especially in winter, I would like to give the famous K another try.
More at http://pintsizedrevelations.blogspot.com/2013/03/kulminator-antwerp-belgium.html
05-19-2013 19:29:02 | More by FightingEntropy
4.73/5 rDev +2.6%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.25 | selection: 5 | $
Belgian businesses seem to like taking Monday off, as I failed to find several Antwerp beer bars which were open. Doubt cast into my mind about the Kulminator, as I only planned to visit the city for one day. I made it to the door, oh good, there's a crowd. Walk in, ok, where do I sit? Seating in limited to a handful of tables inside, and in back is a small area to drink and sit.There's nowhere to sit at the bar, but behind it are hundreds upon hundreds of cellared beers which are waiting to be opened from the shelf. The beer menu reflects that, as I felt like I was flipping through the Encyclopedia Brittanica.
About 8 beers are listed on-tap (Buffalo Stout, Avec Les Bons Vieux, Bush Noel, Kaastel Cuvee), but that's not the main reason to visit. Its long bottle list not only features hundreds of hundreds of different beers, but a vast majority of them have been aged for at least one year, and in some cases more than 10 years old. With such a vast collection, I chose to drink classics with some age; Round 1 featured 2005 Orval (great!), Round 2 was a still lovely 1998 Chimay Blue, and Round 3 was 2010 3 Fonteinen, poured from a traditional handbasket. All three beers were excellent, served cool, and with matching glassware. One additional bonus are the prices for the aged beer; the "fresh" beers are priced right in line, but compared to other places with a few cellared beers, the prices are excellent. My 1998 Chimay way only €9!
Unfortunately, time may not be on the Kulminator's side. According to one regular patron, Dyrk was working with a bum knee and had planned to retire within the next month. This leaves the duties to his hard working wife (who took, delivered, and poured the orders during the night), but after her there's no heir. If you're a beer lover and anywhere in Benelux, a visit to Kulminator is obligatory, even more so with its future in the air.
05-18-2013 03:02:55 | More by DoubleJ
4.48/5 rDev -2.8%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | $$$
The place to visit if you're looking for great disappeared beers, the place isn't that big so it's hard to find a seat. Here you can find some unexpected beers from different years, real vintage beers, some beers of disappeared breweries. The way they manage all that beers in unbelievable, they poor it perfectly in your glass. The price is what you pay for such an experience.
01-28-2013 08:33:21 | More by PaulAlvin
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Kulminator in Antwerpen, Belgium
100 out of 100 based on 96 user ratings.