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Kulminator

Not Rated.
KulminatorKulminator
BA SCORE
100
world-class

106 Ratings
Ratings: 106
Reviews: 96
rAvg: 4.6
pDev: 8.7%
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: 106 | Reviews: 96 | Display Reviews Only:
Reviews by GJ40:
Photo of GJ40
3.68/5  rDev -20%

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.

GJ40, Jan 22, 2014
More User Reviews:
Photo of rpacheco666
5/5  rDev +8.7%

rpacheco666, Sep 09, 2014
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.

BMMillsy, Sep 02, 2014
Photo of kingjohnh
4.5/5  rDev -2.2%

kingjohnh, Jul 21, 2014
Photo of BradMacMullin
4.5/5  rDev -2.2%

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

BradMacMullin, Jun 04, 2014
Photo of doopiedoopiedoo
4.2/5  rDev -8.7%

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.

doopiedoopiedoo, Apr 14, 2014
Photo of s4s
4.5/5  rDev -2.2%

s4s, Apr 11, 2014
Photo of DStoked
5/5  rDev +8.7%

DStoked, Apr 01, 2014
Photo of Paulkasykes30
4.75/5  rDev +3.3%

Paulkasykes30, Mar 02, 2014
Photo of uturn
4.5/5  rDev -2.2%

uturn, Jan 05, 2014
Photo of Sparky44
4.5/5  rDev -2.2%

Sparky44, Dec 15, 2013
Photo of mbonugli
4.5/5  rDev -2.2%

mbonugli, Nov 03, 2013
Photo of MattSweatshirt
4.75/5  rDev +3.3%

MattSweatshirt, Nov 02, 2013
Photo of tbeckett
4.5/5  rDev -2.2%

tbeckett, Oct 23, 2013
Photo of spoony
4.62/5  rDev +0.4%

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.

spoony, May 30, 2013
Photo of FightingEntropy
4.6/5  rDev 0%

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

FightingEntropy, May 19, 2013
Photo of DoubleJ
4.73/5  rDev +2.8%

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.

DoubleJ, May 18, 2013
Photo of PaulAlvin
4.48/5  rDev -2.6%

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.

PaulAlvin, Jan 28, 2013
Photo of eric5bellies
4.95/5  rDev +7.6%

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.

eric5bellies, Oct 05, 2012
Photo of Heretic42
4.53/5  rDev -1.5%

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.

Heretic42, Jun 06, 2012
Photo of BEERchitect
4.53/5  rDev -1.5%

The amazing late afternoon stop at the famed Kulminator provided the perfect warm up for the Zythos festival the following day. A somewhat meandering path through the 6-8 blocks from Antwerp's main town square leads down the austere and understated storefront that hugs the cobblestone street. The Kulminator is denoted by the brightly colored yellow/green sign that screams 'destination'. Already 30 minutes before 4pm there's a group of about a dozen anticipating beer drinkers vying to get a seat. Strange how popular this bar is at 49 people at a time. That's right, the occupancy is limited to 49 people because of the scant seating and tight corridors inside- this place exudes tradition and quality.

Once inside, we're greeted by an over-stuffed interior that's haphazardly decorated with hop vines, other plants, trinkets, beer propoganda, and crates with empty bottles of Westvleteren pretending to be in use but is merely decoration. This induces a mouthwatering effect as I settle into the bench seating near the front window and cozily hosts our group of ten. Even a working cuckoo clock tells me how much time has passed- like I cared. The place could use a dusting every now and then as the place seems to strike fear in the claustrophobic or allergy ridden patrons.

The extensive, hard bound beer menu could have easily been mistaken for remnant from Raiders of the Lost Ark as it is very classily bound and hosts a plethora of beer varieties and vintages... choosing a beer could take forever. Settling on a De Dolle Orebier '02 and '07 for comparisons sake took care of the first two rounds. A follow up of Three Floyds/Struisse Shark Pants, Struisse Damnation Coffee, and De Molen Hel & Verdominis Wild Turkey Barrel Aged edition left me happy and well satisfied. The tap selection rounds out about six offerings and span the classy additions of Tripel Karmeliet, De Koninck, Avec le bons Veaux and a few more. Although not cheap, the vintage items on the menu seemed reasonable and justified.

With little food at their disposal, a carefully carved selection of meats and cheeses provided the perfect companion for the beers. The palate exploration with trial and error ensures a well rounded experience at the table.

A narrow path to the gentleman's room goes past a window to their cellar which boasts stacks of bottles, dusted to the gills and in oddly placed rhyme or reason. Further yet, the path reveals a small patio beyond for those few non-rainy days in Antwerp.

With it's charm and quirkiness, it's no surprise that the entire staff consists of the modest husband and wife team and no one else. So ample patience is required when placing orders. These guys just don't get in a rush to do anything.

For the serious beer lover, Kulminator is a must-stop on any visit to Antwerp as this lazy Thursday evening left an indelible impression on my mind and in my heart that's not likely to be forgotten anytime soon.

BEERchitect, May 07, 2012
Photo of mtbdonn
4.45/5  rDev -3.3%

A-The place is quaint and interesting, but very small; get there when it opens if you want a table.
Q-Outstanding, 1st rate! The menus of aged beers is undescribable! You have to try the Westvleteren flight!
S-Only one waitress, the wife, so it can be a bit slow.
S-Again, nothing like it that I have ever heard of! 2nd to none!
F-Only a few snacks, but some great cheeses and sausage!
V-A little high, but mostly comparable to European prices!

Ive been here a few times and you have to get there when it opens if you want a table, it fills up fast!

mtbdonn, Feb 17, 2012
Photo of 4thelvofbeer
4.78/5  rDev +3.9%

Been to the Kulminator five or six times, most recently right before Christmas. A beer lovers hidden gem that has beers you will not be able to find anywhere else. The aged/vintage Belgian beer collection that is available for sale here is truly one of a kind. Many beers on the 25+ page beer list are up to 20 years old and many popular brands (Chimay, LaTrappe, etc.) have numerous years available. If you every find yourself in Antwerp, this place is an absolute must. It is a bit disorganized inside, and you usually have to get there right when it opens to get a nice seat, but you will be rewarded with the visit and effort to get there. It is small and fills up quick. It is easy for drinkers to sit down in this place and not move until the place closes down!!

4thelvofbeer, Jan 11, 2012
Photo of Theitos
4.72/5  rDev +2.6%

For aged Belgium Beer this place is second to none. We did some vertical tasting of De Dolle Stille Nacht. Very reasonably priced for drinking beer that has been aged for 5 to 6 years and I haven't found anywhere else that has this level of selection. I did find that newer beers were a little more expensive then I was expecting.

The owners wife does most of the serving and is incredibly nice and helpful. The atmosphere is great. A great place to just sit down relax and have some good conversation.

The bar is small so you get to share tables with other people. It was a good way to meet other travelers.

Theitos, Dec 07, 2011
Photo of skimoore
5/5  rDev +8.7%

I have been to quite a few beer bars, but none have had the selection and service of the Kulminator. I brought a colleague who did not know good beer and he was not shunned (might have helped that I chose the beers) but the selection was incredibly especially with the vintages! Dirk and his wife (I am terribly sorry I did not catch the name) were wonderful and gave perfect advice on what beers to take as well as enlightening conversation concerning the direction of beer in Europe. I sampled only de Struise and de Dolle, but the vintages were honestly better than I've ever tasted and I will return ASAP. If you are in the area this is a must visit, a venerable aged beer destination!

skimoore, Nov 29, 2011
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Kulminator in Antwerpen, Belgium
100 out of 100 based on 106 ratings.