Bar, Eatery, Beer-to-go

Vleminckveld 32
Antwerpen, 2000

+32 3 232 45 38 | map

Known for their vast selection of cellared beers.
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Rated: 4.18 by Kappakoosh from Texas

Aug 25, 2019
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Reviewed by emerge077 from Illinois

4.8/5  rDev +4.1%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5
Pro tip: At the front door, ring the doorbell *once*, and tell Dirk you are there to "taste beer". Don't say "i'm here to drink", or expect any chatty conversation. Bring cash and order at the bar. It's really not as complicated as it sounds.

This is basically the living room of two elderly people, so please take that into consideration. Not a traditional bar with young spry bartenders and lightning fast service, it's more of a homey, lived-in café where time stands still.

Kulminator is a magical place, truly unlike any other on the planet. Surreal and potentially maddening to some, it’s best to approach in a relaxed frame of mind and just roll with it. Only on the second day we visited, on a rainy weekday, did the peaceful quiet atmosphere lend itself to a beer epiphany. This was truly the best place in the world to contemplate a really special beer. The atmosphere is on the eccentric side, and many of the beers are really old. If that doesn’t appeal, approach with an open mind or seek elsewhere. Relax and enjoy is the mantra.

A hall of wonders awaits inside the doors, past faded beer signs, dusty teddy bears, ancient plants, dim reading room lighting, bookshelves piled with books, games, and random stacks of "things". A very pleasant garden patio in back when there’s no chain smoking going on. You will meet locals and international beer travelers alike, first night we met people from Italy, Taiwan, UK, & US. I even met a guy that used to live just a few blocks away from me, oddly enough.

So many beers and so many vintages. Hard to keep them all straight, but trust the experts, as they innovated cellaring and serving vintage beer **back in the 1970's**. Draft Oud Beersel lambics (rhubarb, oude lambiek) are a great place to start. Beyond that, there's no way to detail the sheer volume of what's available here. Certainly an endless supply of vintage trappists and strong ales, plus a good representation of lambic.

There *is* some food available, a page of assorted snacks is buried in the beer bible, including dry sausages, cheese plates, nuts, etc.

Leen is truly an angel, cheerful and patient, also an expert in the art of beer stewardship. Dirk is perpetually gruff, but i’d imagine it’s halfway a put-on to avoid chatting with insufferable beer nerds everyday. I brought them a beer from a local Chicago brewery, Revolution Straight Jacket, which seemed to be very well received. I distinctly remember Dirk saying "Shee-cah-go, eh?" in a befuddled tone.

Mysterious wonders such as this must be experienced firsthand. I’d encourage a visit sooner than later, as next year they are further limiting their opening hours. Long live the Kulminator.

2020: Hours changed permanently to Monday - Friday, 11am - 7pm.
May 12, 2019
Rated: 4.69 by REVZEB from Illinois

Aug 25, 2018
Rated: 4.62 by epyon396 from Pennsylvania

Feb 04, 2018
Rated: 4.67 by Dactrius from Netherlands Antilles

Jun 10, 2017
Rated: 4.45 by HopBelT from Belgium

Apr 09, 2017
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Rated by Kmadnesss from Massachusetts

4.64/5  rDev +0.7%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.75 | food: 4.75
Great little place,,,unusual,, funky cool.... Nice selection and food!
Jan 25, 2017
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Reviewed by DoubleSimcoe from Pennsylvania

4.79/5  rDev +3.9%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.25 | selection: 5
Kulminator is so odd! Tiny and full of stuff. Dust and books and knickknacks and plants. A couple of tables for seating, barely any room at the bar. The mighty beer cellar on view behind glass and an old couple tending bar.

This is not your typical Friday-night boozing stop, but more like being invited to somebody’s living room to drink super rare beer at pretty reasonable prices. Classical music playing. She tends bar, he sits at a table.

I counted 13 drafts, including Mikkeller Black Fist, Rodenbach 2013, Buffalo Grand Cru and Bush Noel. The beer bible is too vast and deep to be analyzed here. You just have to go. But I can tell you that my curiosity was piqued by a Beer Geek Breakfast 2007 and Black Hole 2007, plus many other Mikkellers. I only wish I had more time to explore this place.
Jan 22, 2017
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Reviewed by Bierman9 from New Hampshire

4.67/5  rDev +1.3%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5
Well, I finally made it here! Visited during a day-trip to Antwerp, from Maastricht, on 27SEP16, meeting up with a fellow BA whose real name is Leon....

Located a bit away from the lovely downtown Market area, this place looks like a typical pub on the outside. Has a dark wood facade with some lamps and signage, though hanging above is a large sign in the ugliest green and yellow color combo imaginable with the name "Kulminator"! Enter and you'll find yourself in a cross between a small closet and a tiny attic space! It has lots of dark wood, warm incandescent lighting, lots of placards and beer signs, and dried hops hanging everywhere, all under a fine layer of dust! Haha... We sat at a small, round table just inside to the right, and just beyond us was the inimitable Dirk, sitting in his "office" doing some reading. He ambled slowly about now and then, but all the heavy lifting (and talking!) was done by his lovely wife, Leen... To the left was a small, angled bar, and beyond in the rear more small tables, eventually leading to a bright, glass-canopied, brick-lined alley-way/garden with yet more small tables. I tell you, this is one cool fucking place! The biers? Damn!! If you can't find something odd, rare and unique here, just give up! I had a few Struisse offerings, a 2005 Pannepot, and a 2009 and 2010 Cuveé Delphine.... Mmmmm!! I hear this place gets packed, and I can see why! We arrived right at opening time, so we pretty much had the run of the place. I understand it will soon shut down while Dirk has surgery. I wish him, and Leen, well and hope to be back next year...


4.67/5 rDev +1.3%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | $$

Nov 19, 2016
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Reviewed by schinebd from Massachusetts

5/5  rDev +8.5%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5
Upon entering, you find yourself in smallish bar area, overrun by old beer bottles and a hodgepodge of other beer artifacts (coasters, glasses, magazines, etc.). Walking past the bar area, the place opens up with some more tables, and further back is a covered beer garden area with even more seating. The room behind the bar area has games. I went on a Thursday around 8 PM (happened to be Belgian independence day) and stayed until midnight closing, and it was never crowded or loud.

The beer list is simply uncanny. We're talking bottles from the 1970's, rare stouts and lambics, and it appeared that everything on the menu was actually available. Prices were reasonable, though you can find an expensive listing if you want to. I had a Buffalo Grand Cru (on tap) Black Damnation II, Oerbier Special Reserva from 2002, and a St. Louis Gueze from 1999.

The place is run by a charming old couple, who are friendly to both locals and out of towners like myself. I ordered the 1999 Gueze later in the night and was asked to make another selection because the beer was in the cellar, which was closed, however a few minutes later was told they decided to go the cellar and get it for me any way.

The eccentric bar area, the garden out back, the dictionary-thick beer list, the old couple, the decor, I loved my experience here, even if I only get to go once in my lifetime.
Jul 25, 2016
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Reviewed by sjrider from California

4.76/5  rDev +3.3%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 5 | service: 4.25 | selection: 5
Went here the 1st time 20 years ago on a mission out of Amsterdam. First time drinking Westvleteren. Run by an old couple with a couple of German Shepherds and a couple of cats.Huge library of cellared beers and all the correct glassware.Spent a lazy afternoon enjoying then new to me Belgian elixirs and my daughter into the lambics. Fond memories for sure.
Mar 26, 2016
Rated: 4.82 by esktime from Ohio

Mar 18, 2016
Rated: 4.07 by windowside from Germany

Feb 27, 2016
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Reviewed by amano_h from Oregon

4.86/5  rDev +5.4%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5
I was very hesitant about visiting Kulminator as its fame and reputation far precedes it, having won accolades such as "the best place in the world to have a beer" and also known to have one of the most extensive collections of aged Belgian beers in the world. During the planning stages of my trip, a lot of the feedback I got regarding this place was that I should brace for some unparalleled (lack of) service, humongous wait times in between orders, and last minute changes to opening hours.

If you haven't guessed it already, I was lucky enough not to experience any of the negative feedback enumerated above, and instead had such a great time that I somehow got back to my room in Brussels without a train ticket and don't quite remember how I managed such a feat.

I got to Kulminator about 15 minutes after they opened at 4:15pm and the establishment was already half-full. Despite reviews saying that this place is super cramped and cozy, the interior is actually pretty spacious with seating available at the bar, behind it, and even across from it where two tables are partitioned off kind of like a small lounge; I opted to sit in the lounge area as I was planning to be comfortable for quite some time. Leen served me for the entire evening and she was very kind and patient with all of my orders. Despite some of my orders being slightly obscure--like the oldest vintage they had of Oerbier Special Reserva, for example--all my orders got out to me under five minutes, even at 9pm when the bar was completely packed, thereby debunking the "slow and bad service" portion of my expectations.

Whereas different groups of people did join me at my table for most of the night, most of them were locals popping in for a drink or two and all minded their own businesses unlike what people say about strange encounters here, but that suited me just fine for my purposes; I wanted to try some Belgian gems that aren't available anywhere on the planet, and I'm glad to say I was able to achieve said feat.

I don't think I have to describe the atmosphere as it's been done in such vivid detail in so many of the other reviews (grandparents' house, etc.) but be sure to grab a bite to eat prior to visiting this place and not make the mistake of thinking drunk you will be sober enough to find something to eat after leaving this amazing Cafe; food options are limited if not non-existent, and Leen is busy enough as is keeping everyone happy.

And yes, Dirk will stare you down if you do anything out of the ordinary like take pictures of the establishment, but he means well... I think.
Feb 24, 2016
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Reviewed by NizzleEGizzle from New York

4.69/5  rDev +1.7%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 5
This place is a beer monastery. It's dusty and outdated décor only adds to its charm. It's a quiet atmosphere, almost reverent, with proprietors who are knowledgeable fonts of beer lore, if not always forthcoming with help. And the beer list is probably the best in the world. At least in terms of rare, aged, stuff. Worth traveling to.
Jan 12, 2016
Rated: 4.75 by NO13BABY from Maine

Oct 25, 2015
Rated: 4.33 by halo3one from Georgia

Sep 07, 2015
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Reviewed by jtladner from District of Columbia

3.94/5  rDev -14.5%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.5
This is an interesting bar that is worth a visit if you are in the area. It's a very small place and when I was there one large table was covered completely in random stacks of books and papers. It's run by an older couple. From what I could tell the woman takes the orders and serves the beer while the man disgruntledly fetches bottles from the cellar. We couldn't actually understand what he was saying to the woman, but he never seemed very happy when she asked him to grab a beer. And from what I've heard, he has a bad knee and so some days he completely refuses to go down in the cellar.

The bottle list is definitely pretty impressive, but it really depends on what you are looking for. They have a ton of vintages for a lot of belgian beers, but not much when it comes to lambics. And I didn't see any Westy on the list when I was there either.

Like I said, worth checking out if you are in the area, but not worth the trip to Antwerp just for this.
Sep 06, 2015
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Reviewed by Ryanthebear from Massachusetts

4.76/5  rDev +3.3%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 5 | service: 4.25 | selection: 5 | food: 4.75
The general vibe of this place might best be described as a small-ish hole in the wall beer hoarder's den that happens to have the most mind-blowing selection of Belgian beer you will ever lay eyes on. Among the beer paraphernalia, random stacks of books, dried plants, and scattered tables, the elderly couple who own the place serve up beer selections you probably didn't know you could ever experience. I found the atmosphere charming, so I gave it a great score for vibe. The selection is a two-inch-thick tome of fresh and cellared beer. The only downside is that there are, as far as I can tell, only two people working there. So, if it is crowded, you might wait awhile for a beer.

I enjoyed a side-by-side comparison of a 2005 Chimay and 2015 Chimay. I couldn't help but grin as the dusty 2005 bottle was nonchalantly brought out to me as if it wasn't the second or third craziest thing I had ever seen. It was definitely an interesting experience and well worth the 10 euros spent on the two beers combined. I would have loved to have been able to see the beer cellar there. It must be an incredible place.
Aug 21, 2015
Rated: 4.54 by mklisz from New Hampshire

Aug 05, 2015
Rated: 4.58 by phingdong from New Hampshire

Jul 14, 2015
Rated: 4.73 by herrburgess from South Carolina

Jun 03, 2015
Rated: 4.44 by SCW from New York

Jun 01, 2015
Rated: 5 by AntonFred from Greece

May 28, 2015
Rated: 4.39 by Hayley_86 from Netherlands

May 15, 2015
Rated: 4.84 by CavemanRamblin from North Carolina

May 14, 2015
Reviewed by WOLFGANG from South Carolina

4.6/5  rDev -0.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 5
February 21, 2008
Minimal draught selection. Traded Dyrk a local American beer for vintage draught beer. Very impressive cellar selection. Best beer tried was a 2001 vintage bottle of Westvleteren XII (Perfection).
Apr 18, 2015
Rated: 5 by muratgurer from Turkey

Mar 31, 2015
Rated: 4.5 by spycow from Illinois

Nov 28, 2014
Rated: 5 by PolarBear3 from Australia

Nov 22, 2014
Rated: 4.5 by CSO from Illinois

Nov 06, 2014
Rated: 4.25 by cbnz from Canada (BC)

Oct 04, 2014
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Reviewed by WynnO from Florida

5/5  rDev +8.5%
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.
Sep 30, 2014
Rated: 5 by rpacheco666 from Brazil

Sep 09, 2014
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Reviewed by BMMillsy from Florida

4.39/5  rDev -4.8%
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.
Sep 02, 2014
Rated: 4.5 by kingjohnh from New Mexico

Jul 21, 2014
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Reviewed by BradMacMullin from Massachusetts

4.5/5  rDev -2.4%
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
Jun 05, 2014
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Reviewed by doopiedoopiedoo from Netherlands

4.2/5  rDev -8.9%
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.
Apr 14, 2014
Rated: 4.5 by s4s from Puerto Rico

Apr 11, 2014
Rated: 5 by DStoked from Ohio

Apr 01, 2014
Kulminator in Antwerpen, Belgium
Place rating: 4.61 out of 5 with 139 ratings