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Kulminator

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BA SCORE
100
world-class

104 Reviews
KulminatorKulminator
PLACE INFO

Type: Bar, Eatery

Vleminckveld 32
Antwerpen, 2000
Belgium

+32 3 232 45 38 | map

Notes:
Known for their vast selection of cellared beers.

Added by BeerAdvocate

PLACE STATS
Score:
100
Reviews:
104
Ratings:
132
Avg:
4.62
pDev:
7.79%
 
 
Taps:
8
Bottles/Cans:
600
Cask:
N
Beer-to-Go:
Y
View: Place Reviews | Events
User Reviews
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Reviews: 104 | Ratings: 132
Reviews by spoony:
Photo of spoony
4.62/5  rDev 0%
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.

 1,774 characters

More User Reviews:
Photo of Bierman9
4.67/5  rDev +1.1%
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...

Prosit!!

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

306

 1,701 characters

Photo of schinebd
5/5  rDev +8.2%
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.

 1,377 characters

Photo of 54V4G3
4.73/5  rDev +2.4%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4.75 | selection: 5

Photo of sjrider
4.76/5  rDev +3%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 5 | service: 4.25 | selection: 5

Photo of esktime
4.82/5  rDev +4.3%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4.75 | selection: 5

Photo of windowside
4.07/5  rDev -11.9%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3.75 | selection: 4.5

Photo of amano_h
4.86/5  rDev +5.2%
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.

 2,593 characters

Photo of NizzleEGizzle
4.69/5  rDev +1.5%
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.

 337 characters

Photo of SLIPPINGAWAY
4.75/5  rDev +2.8%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5

Photo of halo3one
4.33/5  rDev -6.3%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5

Photo of jtladner
3.94/5  rDev -14.7%
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.

 962 characters

Photo of Ryanthebear
4.76/5  rDev +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.

 1,123 characters

Photo of mklisz
4.54/5  rDev -1.7%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.25 | selection: 5

Photo of phingdong
4.58/5  rDev -0.9%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4.25 | selection: 4.75

Photo of herrburgess
4.73/5  rDev +2.4%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

Photo of Sixpoint
4.44/5  rDev -3.9%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5

Photo of AntonFred
5/5  rDev +8.2%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 5

Photo of Hayley_86
4.39/5  rDev -5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4.25 | selection: 5 | food: 4

Photo of CavemanRamblin
4.84/5  rDev +4.8%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.75 | selection: 5 | food: 4

Photo of WOLFGANG
4.6/5  rDev -0.4%
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).

 214 characters

Photo of muratgurer
5/5  rDev +8.2%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 5

Photo of spycow
4.5/5  rDev -2.6%

Photo of PolarBear3
5/5  rDev +8.2%

Photo of CSO
4.5/5  rDev -2.6%

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Kulminator in Antwerpen, Belgium
4.62 out of 5 based on 132 ratings.
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