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Taps: 8 / Bottles: 600
Cask: N / Beer-to-Go: Y
$$ - reasonable
[ Bar, Eatery ]
phone: +32 3 232 45 38
Known for their vast selection of cellared beers.
(Place added by: BeerAdvocate)
Ratings & Reviews
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| Reviews: 92 | Show All Ratings:
Reviews by taez555:
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 3.5 | $$
I made my first visit to the Kulminator on my honeymoon. You know youve picked the right girl when shes willing to spend an entire day of your honeymoon taking a 4-hour round trip train ride to Belgium from Amsterdam just to visit a bar.
First off, I highly recommend getting yourself a map to try and find this place. Its only about a 15 walk from the train station, but its not exactly on any main roads. Once you get your barrings its easy to find. You cant miss the huge green and yellow KULMINATOR sign outside.
The interior is not what I expected. You walk in off the street to this small little place that youre not quite sure is an old kitchen, bar or overgrown patio. A very worn rustic feel. Faux trees and leaves intermixed with brewerania cover the walls. Cabinets and chairs are so worn you feel like youre in your grandparents house. As you walk in, on the left, theres a small cluttered slightly curved bar that seats maybe a half dozen. A group of tables seating about 20 is to the right. Up a small set of stairs is another seating area with 2 tables. This area sits maybe 5-10 people and is next to a glass door looking out onto a small garden. Behind the very cluttered bar is a wall of beer. Past the top floor towards the bathrooms theres a clear glass window that you can see more of the cellared bottles. Combine all that with the soft classical music in the background, its really quite something.
So, hows the beer selection? Lets just say this isnt the most famous beer bar in the world for nothing. The beer menu is a small phone book sized binder. It started at 1 and goes up to 836. Minus the few food items and non-alcoholic offerings its well over 700 beers. Every Belgian beer you could imagine and then some. The crazy thing about this place is the amount of vintage beers. There were several pages of just Chimay. Pick a year over the past 20 years, they probably have it. All the beers were very reasonably priced as well. Most beers didnt go over $4 Euro, the vintage ones $10 or so. Even the oldest magnums were no more than $20 or $40 Euro.
Food? Basically they have some cheese and meat. I ordered the Kulminator speciaal platter. I nice little assortment of smoked gouda, anchovies, olives, biscuits and a heaping pile of Spam style meat. It was decent and helped cut some of the alcohol, but my wife doesnt eat meat and cheese doesnt always agree with her. So, It worked for a little while, but it definitely leaves something to be desired.
The service IS Mr. and Mrs. Van Dyck. For the most part Mrs. Van Dyck waited on us. She was very polite even though there was a bit of a language barrier. After a few rounds she warmed up to us more. After seeing we were ordering more obscure beers, she suggested some interesting beers after they ran out of one we tried to order.
Basically the Kulminator was worth the 4 hours on the train. Sure we ended up hitting up someplace else for food after we left, but the rest more than made up for it. I dont know when Ill get another chance to go back to Belgium, but I will definitely try and make another trip here one day.
08-31-2004 06:15:56 |
More by taez555
More User Reviews:
11-03-2013 22:50:20 |
More by mbonugli
11-02-2013 04:42:40 |
More by MattSweatshirt
10-23-2013 18:25:11 |
More by tbeckett
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4.25 | selection: 5 | $$
A-The Kulminator is located near central Antwerp on a lesser traveled street not far from one of the city's smaller squares. The place is a bit like something out of Harry Potter; it is cramped feeling with boxes and books stacked up here and there, plants spilling over everywhere, and a slightly off-kilter feel to the whole thing. The front room is small, and while there is a back patio, it looks small, as well. The vibe seems to work, however...at least it did when we visited on a cool Wednesday afternoon soon after opening. I don't know if I would be too pleased on a hot and crowded day in July.
Q-The bottle list here is simply incredible. I'll repeat what others have already said: the bottle list has to been seen and sampled to be believed. I suppose you might disappointed if you were looking for American craft, but the list of high-quality Belgians is unreal.
Ser-Dirk (Derk?) and his wife were working when we stopped in. While both were friendly and (obviously) knowledgeable, Dirk forgot to get my Aardmonik from the cellar after I had ordered, so I sat there for ten minutes enjoying the strangeness of my surroundings and longing for my beer.
Sel-The bottle list pretty much speaks for itself. It is at least a dozen pages long. Unreal.
V-Prices were in line with other spots in Antwerpen. I didn't do an exhaustive search, but many of the vintage brews on the list that I spot-checked also seemed well-priced given the age and rarity.
O-This place is well worth the visit, and not just for the bottle list, but for the whole experience. There are not many authentic-feeling places like this on earth and since I understand that Dirk may be retiring soon, you better make your visit quickly if you want to experience the Kulminator in full glory.
05-30-2013 02:44:32 |
More by spoony
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | $$$
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
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
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | $$$
The place to visit if you're looking for great disappeared beers, the place isn't that big so it's hard to find a seat. Here you can find some unexpected beers from different years, real vintage beers, some beers of disappeared breweries. The way they manage all that beers in unbelievable, they poor it perfectly in your glass. The price is what you pay for such an experience.
01-28-2013 08:33:21 |
More by PaulAlvin
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5 | $
Fulfilled a dream coming to this Bar and wasn't dissappointed.
Dyrk and his lovely wife were so hospitable and left me with a truely memorable experience. I brought Dyrk a couple of gifts which he really appreciated.
I was lucky enough to taste the Westy Red Cap and a host of other aged Westvleterens / St Sixtus beers that were remarkable. People on here complain that the service is slow, all I saw was his wife work her butt off two nights in a row trying to do her best, If Americans go there expecting American service then don't, this is Europe so get used to it, oh and by the way we don't expect a tip.. She was so lovely and even gave us a book to keep. The two year old Belgian cheese was exquisite, as were the meats. The beer menu speaks for itself and you could get lost in it. With a St Sixtus 1979 costing 11 euro's can you really complain ? I
One thing I did notice that Dyrk and his wife aren't getting any younger, and at some point they will retire. I just hope this place is presereved as a beer museum and it lives on for all to enjoy.
10-05-2012 13:47:01 |
More by eric5bellies
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3 | $$$
A: Kulminator is small, and for lack of a better word, quaint. The actual bar area is filled/cluttered with beer paraphernalia and empty (usually rare) bottles, which gives it both a homey and claustrophobic feel at the same time. The tables and the small terrace in the back are great for having a beer with a few friends.
Q: Quality was excellent with a vast selection of Belgian beers.
S: Service was excellent each time I went, but it was never very packed.
S: Selection is excellent for Belgian beers, especially for cellared beers. While not the largest bottle list I've seen in Belgium, it certainly has the highest quality. They also had an good selection of Mikkeller beers. That said, don't come here expecting to see your favorite German or American beer.
F: A few cheeses, meats, and other bar snacks.
V: Oddly, a bit overpriced on some of the more common bottles while some of the more rare (or at least older) bottles were reasonable. The food was also a tad bit pricey, but not very far out of the average for Belgium.
O: A must go if you're in Antwerp, especially if you like cellared beers or are looking for a hard-to-find Belgian beer. However, if you just want a more common beer or something on tap, I'd probably recommend going elsewhere.
06-06-2012 23:35:54 |
More by Heretic42
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Kulminator in Antwerpen, Belgium
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