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Taps: 8 / Bottles: 600
Cask: N / Beer-to-Go: Y
$$ - reasonable
[ Bar, Eatery ]
phone: +32 (0)3 232 45 38
Known for their vast selection of cellared beers.
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New Brunswick (Canada)
vibe: 2 | quality: 4 | service: 2 | selection: 4 | $$
Wow... had read about this beer bar many times, and was quite disappointed.
A: Pretty tacky, actually... especially compared to the many other bars of Belgium I visited. It was early March, so there were about 12,000 paper Leprechauns hung around all over. There were three other guys in the bar, one of which was trying to provoke a quiet man reading a paper into fighting him. Entire place reeked of B.O.
Service: Hardly any customers, yet service was still spotty, and not very friendly.
Selection: HUGE beer menu... however, many, many selections were highlighted to indicate that they weren't in stock. Do they really have, therefore, as many beers as everyone seems to think?
Maybe I just got insanely unlucky? Either way, one of my least favorite bar experiences in all of Belgium... actually, maybe the only one that actually wasn't pretty great.
07-30-2009 19:32:44 |
More by berley31
vibe: 3 | quality: 3 | service: 2 | selection: 5 | $$$
I was looking for Kulminator in Antwerpen for at least an hour and a half befor a actually found the damn place...My tip is...get yourself a good map !
I've heard this place had a good and heavy beer selection, I just wanted to figure that out by myself and when the waitresse brought me the list after I had disturbed her from her 3 o'clock group reading session, I understood very quiclky....I was in heaven. You know the expression when in Rome? Well that day, I told myself...when in Belgium ! The Kulminator specializes in vintaged Trappist ales. They keep an eventory of old trappist beers from the eighties going on to todays freshly out of the oven.
I just couldn't help myself... my girlfriend and I ordered Blue Chimay 1983 aside a 2005 and a 2010. It was a magical moment for me. The lady waitress couldn't care less about us and went back to her group reading session after I've had spent over 30 euros in 5 minutes, but in front of that 1983 Chimay, I was shaking. This is what good porto should taste like... It was like having sirupy Candied fruit and spicy tobaco juice with little carbonation left, the color was well degraded and left alot of sediments in the glass wich proves that beer is a living thing in a bottle. Having all three vintages one next to another was simply fantastic...I really understood the development of a beer troughout time that day.
The little terrase at the back of the bar is very cute and the beer chilling room is impressive in stock. Dont go there for the service but for the eventory of old beer. Its quite an experience.
11-11-2010 07:22:35 |
More by Glory
vibe: 5 | quality: 4 | service: 1.5 | selection: 3.5 | $$$
I ventured to Antwerp to start my Belgium trip at the place with all the hype, sadly it lives up to very little of it...Located on a cute side street not far from the busy shopping streets of the city. I walk in and I'm instantly in awe, what a beautiful and quaint place. Its very old, nothing has been updated in probably 40 years, awesome old furniture, cool tables that have a bench feel to them with semi couches, unreal drunk bottles and old beer collectibles, and in the front an awesome amount of plants cover the windows. In the back a cool patio and there is a window view of the cellar allowing you to see most of what they have. Does make me wonder with aging they have going on, what's all that light doing to those 20+ year old beers??...An older woman and the owner were the only people in the store when we walked in. He didn't move a muscle from his paper she barely said anything. Eventually she came and took my order of the 2008 Rodenbach Grand Cru (on tap), and promptly brought it back in the correct glassware. While drinking my beer I searched through their beer menu and was instantly disappointed. They have all the staples and some rare ones but nothing that blew my socks off(they did have still nacht reserva 2005). The trappist verticals I was expecting just weren't there. A good selection of Chimay blue heading back to the early 80's but they were missing every couple years. No in depth R10, no westy's at all...The owner was basically a prick. We sat right next to him and his entered and left the store about 6 times he didn't say one word to us, let alone even look at our direction besides being the only people in the bar for over an hour...The woman, did not offer to help us at all!!! After waiting for over 30 minutes I finally had to go to her and order something new. She was too busy sitting on her ass behind the bar.
I hate to be a downer but this place doesn't even sniff the hype. An awesome atmosphere with a DECENT selection of beer. A few old trappist and random rarer De Dolle and De Struise but totally lacking on sours. Akkurat totally dominates this place and is clearly the top bar in the world.
If you're in Antwerp its worth a stop in, however, this is by no means a destination bar. Stay an extra day in Brugge or Brussels, or just take the extra 2 hour drive to Amsterdam.
11-23-2010 19:50:46 |
More by jrallen34
vibe: 3 | quality: 4 | service: 2 | selection: 4.5 | $$
We were in Antwerp for a few days during our honeymoon, so we stopped here for an evening. We walked in and sat at the bar, and when the keeps didn't approach us for 10 minutes, we finally called them over. They were nice enough to speak to us in English.
We were starving and inquired about food, but they said they didn't serve food. Looking around, there were two other customers eating cheese and sausages, so we asked about that. They caved and brought over a huge plate of cheese and sausage which ended up costing something like 2 euros. Score. But why did we have to point out that other people were eating before they would give us some food?
Spent about 10 minutes looking through the menu. Inquired about a few beers but they were out of several. We ended up getting a more recent vintage of the beer we wanted, but we were charged for the older one that I ordered. Oh well, the food was cheap.
Amazing menu, but like I mentioned, several of the things we ordered were out.
This is a nice place, but the service was really pretty poor. If all you care about is a big beer list, go here. But we had a lot better time at other beer bars throughout Belgium. The lists elsewhere might not be as big as Kulminator's, but many of them are still amazing...and a lot more fun.
03-23-2010 18:21:38 |
More by jeremyn
vibe: 2 | quality: 4 | service: 3 | selection: 5 | $
Fourth and last visit. The puritans will be delighted to learn that the Kulminator is now smoke free. And locals free. And atmosphere free.
If you want to meet a loud and annoying band of American and British tourists in Antwerp there's now no need to go to an Irish pub in the centre, you can do this in the Kulminator. Or in Brugse Beertje in Bruges. What you won't meet is regulars.
Shame. It was a unique place that appeared to exist out of time.
Happily, you can do much better in Antwerp and within 5 minutes stroll.
05-09-2010 23:58:40 |
More by finemind
United Kingdom (England)
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 2 | selection: 5 | $$$
The Friday before the Zythos fest is not the best time to visit this place.
At 18.00 it was full and I mean full, we did get served, but it took 20 minutes, the next two times it took 30 minutes. I know they have to hunt down some strange and old beers, but only having the two of them with the required knowledge on such a busy period doesn't work.
We found a seat in the end, with some other Brits, when they left another party of Brits took their place. Everyone knows their beers in here, it is not a bar you just stumble into. On the next table to us, 4 Swedish lads (mid 20's) were spending a fortune on some huge aged bottles, but didn't care and were having a ball.
All our beers were great apart from an aged one, anywhere else and you would take it back, but here, you don't.
I will go back, but not on a fest weekend.
03-05-2007 21:48:52 |
More by BlackHaddock
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 2 | $$
The beer selection seems comparable with other pubs I've been at. Great beer, if the ability to purchase bottles is important. For most of the night, the kulminator was cheerful and appropriately buzzed.
The night ended poorly. A white haired figure, out of concern of losing a few hundred euros, freaked out and stood in front of the door and locked it. He threatened to call the police if any of the 20+ people in the bar left.
I was trying to bring home my tired fiancee, who didn't drink anything that night. We explained that we were guests and the hosts are paying. However the owner threatened to call the police on us for leaving and refused to let us go. I told him that I would tell this story to customers if he continued to hold us hostage and he said he didn't care.
The two hosts of the party fully intended to pay, and were actively assembling cash to quiet the guy. It took them some time get it together, but they did. There was never any doubt that they would, as this was a corporate sponsored event, not a bunch of party crashers.
Long story short is that it doesn't matter how nice your bottles are if you bully your customers and turn them into prisoners. I hate Kulminator for this treatment.
11-17-2010 08:49:10 |
More by memememee
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 2 | selection: 4.5 | $$
A visit to Kulminator was almost a religious pilgrimage for me. I had been dreaming about drinking at this bar since I saw it featured in a Rick Steve's travel show years prior. Reading about it on this and other sites as well as in travel and beer books made me almost burst with anticipation on the long walk there. In fact, my strong yearning nearly overwhelmed me at a visit Elaina and I made to the Royal Museum of the Arts that morning. We may have been staring at hundreds of fine paintings but I knew that the real Dutch Masters were down the Vleminckveld at Kulminator.
After drooling all over the glass that separates the beer cellar from the bar I took a seat on the back patio and began drooling all over the beer menu. Our server was quite busy discussing the latest Belgian version of the Oprah book of the month with a few other elderly ladies so we waited. A glance at the bar revealed to us that the terse looking old bartender was equally occupied arguing with two mulleted geezers. We waited. Eventually, the mature barmaid looked up from her novel and with a glance of mild annoyance took our order. A dozen or so minutes later a wicker basket containing a dust covered bottle of unfiltered 1995 De Neve Geuze was delivered complete with a dead spider on the bottle. It was so worth the wait! We set about relaxing with our delicious sour beer and took in the ambiance of the place and committed the beer list to memory.
For me, Kulminator was most exciting because of the sheer number of vintages available. If one wants, they can do a vertical of Chimay Blue going back nearly 30 years but if vintage beer isn't your thing, Kulminator also offers some of the most exciting beers available in Belgium today. For instance, beers from De Struisse were hot when I visited and Kulminator featured the full lineup.
Despite lagging service, Kulminator was a pleasant drinking experience and absolutely worth the visit. There beer list is truly unique making this historic beer bar a must for any true beerthusiast.
11-15-2009 16:05:32 |
More by DaPeculierDane
vibe: 3 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 5 | $$
Visited on a trip to Belgium with some fellow beer nerds in March '08.
This was not my favorite place I visited in Belgium but their selection is hard to beat. Sat at a table right at the entrance which may be why my experience wasn't great. People coming and going. Pretty cramped.
Service was friendly but it was hard trying to figure out what was actually in that beer cellar of theirs. They had a menu (the bible) but was really confusing and we basically just had to ask for stuff, which kinda sucked.
On the other hand, we did have a 5 year old bottle of Westy 12 and a Tripel Hop Duvel which was cool. The Westy was incredible.
All in all, a must if you're in Antwerp if you're looking to find really hard to find beer, including vintages.
03-21-2009 03:43:47 |
More by jfunkk79
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | $$
I think the Kulminator is the most famous beer-bar in the world, but it took me by surprise. Tim Webb ("Good Beer Guide: Belgium") said they'd reduced their beer list and were focusing on aged beer, which I found to be true. And the décor was...different. Not a bad experience, but for me, an American beer-geek, it was not what I expected from the most famous beer-bar in the world.
I don't remember much about the neighborhood, although it is a brief walk south from Antwerp's main square. Décor is odd...felt to me to be strangely Asian-influenced. We sat in the front on some benches with cushions on them. There was an elevated bar, and a small unused courtyard in the middle.
Kulminator does focus on aged beer, which (not to sound like an ignoramus on this site) is not a concept I've fully bought into yet. The beer menu is huge, multiplied in size by the various vintages of the same beer. A little older lady was our server, and she did a good job helping us navigate the menu. I had a Brugse Tripel from 2001, which I didn't enjoy all that much, and a Bush Noel on draft, which I thought was pretty good.
I live in the Mid-west and have been trained to believe that great beer places are places like the Map Room in Chicago, Tornado in San Francisco, or Roman's here in Milwaukee. Kulminator has this world-class reputation, but is very different from all of those.
10-24-2008 16:04:37 |
More by BeerBelcher
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Kulminator in Antwerpen, Belgium