Kulminator

Not Rated.
KulminatorKulminator
BA SCORE
100
world-class

111 Ratings
Ratings: 111
Reviews: 97
rAvg: 4.6
pDev: n/a
Taps: 8
Bottles: 600
Cask: N
Beer-to-Go: Y
[ Bar, Eatery ]

Vleminckveld 32
Antwerpen, 2000
Belgium
phone: +32 3 232 45 38

view map and get directionsMap 

Notes:
Known for their vast selection of cellared beers.

(Place added by: BeerAdvocate)
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Ratings: 111 | Reviews: 97 | Display Reviews Only:
Reviews by Crosling:
Photo of Crosling
4.22/5  rDev -8.3%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 5 | food: 3

Going to the Kulminator was the reason I came to Antwerpen. Yes, Antwerpen is a beautiful city, but I wouldn't have known it, if it hadn't have been for this place.

The atmosphere is fairly quaint and small, with large booths to sit and a window in the back with a view of their enormous beer cellar. Locals were playing chess and light classical seemed perfect in the backround.

During the session I sampled Westvleteren 6, Voison Saison 1986, Abbaye Des Rocs 1987, Achel Extra, Courage Imperial Stout 1983, De Dolle Stille Naught Reserva 2000 and 1983 Thomas Hardy's Ale. The beer selection is obviously phenomenal, about 600-700, many of which are vintage beers. The prices seemed fairly reasonale, except for the Reserva, which was 20 Euros. Damn!

I had a plate of aged cheese during the tasting. It was a nice palate cleaner but didn't really taste that great.

The owners were polite but certainly not friendly. It was all too common for a beer to take 10-15 minutes even when Mrs. Van Dyck was doing nothing at all. The owners know that there place is considered the best beer bar in the world and it's too bad, because I was treated like I didn't belong.

Regardless though, I'll be back, hopefully within the next year. Their beer selection is just to vast and maybe next time, I'll be a little older, they might treat me with a little respect. They might even say thanks when I drop 120 euro in one night.

More User Reviews:
Photo of spycow
4.5/5  rDev -2.2%

Photo of PolarBear3
5/5  rDev +8.7%

Photo of CSO
4.5/5  rDev -2.2%

Photo of cbnz
4.25/5  rDev -7.6%

Photo of WynnO
5/5  rDev +8.7%

Very small place. Two dozen seats maybe. Difficult to find a spot. Service is slow. Off the beaten path from downtown Antwerp.

Having said that, it's one of the most awesome places I have visited, and I'll wager it's as good as any place on the planet. This is an old world adventure, and I advise setting aside two hours to soak it in---three would be better. Relax, browse the menu of unbelievable selections (several hundred), and consider the privilege of existence---drinking a 5, 10, or 15 year old beverage in one of the ancient cities of Europe.

I so hope to return to this place someday.

Photo of rpacheco666
5/5  rDev +8.7%

Photo of BMMillsy
4.39/5  rDev -4.6%

Stopped in my first night in Antwerp and this was not what I was expecting. I was thinking this would be like Falling Rock in Denver. Think the exact opposite of that. Tiny little place with shit piled everywhere, even on what would otherwise be seating for customers. Empty bottles all over the place, some semi-outside seating, a bit dirty. Charming I guess you would say. Cats running around all over. Beer list is huge, with a window into the cooler/cellar which was fun. Had a 2005 Stille Nacht Special Reserva so can’t complain. Service was fine with an older lady taking care of us. Prices were decent for smaller bottles, but jacked up for big ones. Overall seems like a must stop for any beer geek in Antwerp.

Photo of kingjohnh
4.5/5  rDev -2.2%

Photo of BradMacMullin
4.5/5  rDev -2.2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 5

Was here a few years back, but absolutely so unique. Not impressive on the outside and a bit out of the way in Antwerp, but when you get in they hit you with a beer listing that is hard to comprehend. I ordered some cellar bottles that were hard to find....I had very old Trappist Ale. So unique....if you love beer you absolutely have to go here

Photo of doopiedoopiedoo
4.2/5  rDev -8.7%
vibe: 3 | quality: 5 | service: 3 | selection: 5

This is not an average beer bar, this is an experience.
Cluttered, dodgy and dirty. I liked it a lot.

Didn't try the vintage beers but stuck with some aweome beers (like Mikkeller Black) they had on tap.

Service is different. Not bad or anything but different as others have explained here as well.

When in Antwerp you just got to go here just because it is what it is.

Photo of s4s
4.5/5  rDev -2.2%

Photo of DStoked
5/5  rDev +8.7%

Photo of Paulkasykes30
4.75/5  rDev +3.3%

Photo of GJ40
3.68/5  rDev -20%
vibe: 3.25 | quality: 3.5 | service: 4 | selection: 3.75

I went here with high expectations but I was pretty disappointed. I started with the bottle list but didn't find anything I had to have that I felt was worth the money. I then moved to the tap list and didn't really recognize anything. So I picked two for a friend and I to split. They were pretty bad. I don't know if it was the beer themselves or their age, condition, etc. I wasn't impressed with the atmosphere but the service was very good. I just don't get what so many people see in this place.

Photo of uturn
4.5/5  rDev -2.2%

Photo of Sparky44
4.5/5  rDev -2.2%

Photo of mbonugli
4.5/5  rDev -2.2%

Photo of MattSweatshirt
4.75/5  rDev +3.3%

Photo of tbeckett
4.5/5  rDev -2.2%

Photo of spoony
4.62/5  rDev +0.4%
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.

Photo of FightingEntropy
4.6/5  rDev 0%
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

Photo of DoubleJ
4.73/5  rDev +2.8%
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.

Photo of PaulAlvin
4.48/5  rDev -2.6%
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.

Photo of eric5bellies
4.95/5  rDev +7.6%
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.

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Kulminator in Antwerpen, Belgium
100 out of 100 based on 111 ratings.