't Oud Arsenaal

't Oud Arsenaal't Oud Arsenaal
't Oud Arsenaal't Oud Arsenaal
Bar, Beer-to-go

Maria Pijpelincxstraat 4
Antwerpen, 2000

+32 32 32 97 54 | map

Notes: Operates the bottle shop Bierwinkel Den Dorstvlegel from inside. Will ship beers as well.
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Reviews: 20 | Ratings: 26 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Reviews by JorisP:
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JorisP from Belgium

4.22/5  rDev +5.8%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 2.5

't Oud Arsenaal is a genuine gem. In front of the awful 'Stadsschouwburg' the umpteenth generation of the same family runs this true local. Unusually for such an establishment, it has a very good and ingenious selection of craft beers. Emphasis on the menu is both on gueuze and the real trappists. Some original draught beers, and always some "beers of the week" from small brewers, thanks to the dependent beershop 'Dorstvlegel' on Oude Vaartplaats (500m). Closed on Thursdays. No food but snacks - but who cares, restaurants all around, including the Palm showcase "Horta" opposite (cask ale).

Dec 18, 2002
More User Reviews:
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emerge077 from Illinois

4.56/5  rDev +14.3%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5

A true gem of Antwerp, a unique time capsule perfectly preserved, passed down and treasured by several generations for nearly a century. The immaculate antique interior has been featured in essential books, like the Good Beer Guide and Belgian Cafe Culture. Loads of vintage beer signs, antique wallpaper, framed portraits of ancestors and pigeons alike, an antique bicycle hung above a potbelly stove complete with 2 cats curled up for a nap. I can't say i've ever been in a cozier place than this.

The owner Lucia was behind the bar and easily understood my attempts at Dutch. Draft Rodenbach and an entire menu page full of 30+ lambic beers, yes please. We had Girardin and Boon Faro, Boon Vat 108 & 110, plus a roasty stout from a smaller Belgian brewer. The list isn't huge, but it's well organized, varied and eclectic.

The regulars may regard you with interest, not unlike any other locals pub around the world. This is basically a classy Belgian version of Cheers. An unpretentious crowd that welcomes you if you show an ounce of effort. Maybe actually talk to people and make friends, consciousness goes a long way. It helps not to act like an entitled tourist or overly fragile, we were also a diverse group and got no stares. We met an elderly local that was once stationed in Africa with American troops, and later struck up a conversation with a guy from Boon making a delivery that we recognized earlier from Toer De Geuze. The world seemed a lot smaller after talking with a couple of the locals.

They offer all beers to go, as per their website: http://www.dorstvlegel.be

May 12, 2019
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HopBelT from Belgium

4.28/5  rDev +7.3%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4.25 | selection: 4.25

Aug 25, 2018
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byronic from Canada (ON)

4.03/5  rDev +1%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4 | service: 3.75 | selection: 4.25

Oct 17, 2015
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SCW from New York

3.82/5  rDev -4.3%
vibe: 3.75 | quality: 3.75 | service: 4 | selection: 3.75

Jun 01, 2015
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Hayley_86 from Netherlands

3.82/5  rDev -4.3%
vibe: 3.75 | quality: 3.75 | service: 3.75 | selection: 4

May 15, 2015
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cbnz from Canada (BC)

3.5/5  rDev -12.3%

Oct 04, 2014
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roymeo from California

1.88/5  rDev -52.9%
vibe: 1 | quality: 2 | service: 2 | selection: 2

This place is located on a busy shopping street full of tourists.

We walked in the door and everyone in the place turned and looked. I'm not sure if it was because I'm so young (only 42) or if it was because I brought in an even younger (38) brown-person. Either way, there were (luckily?) no seats available but the standing bar was open, which seemed a little weird considering how crowded everything else around us was. We didn't need to stand at the bar looking for someone's attention from behind the bar before the gawking attention our side of the bar convinced us to leave.

Jan 14, 2014
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uturn from Florida

4/5  rDev +0.3%

Jan 05, 2014
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77black_ships from Belgium

3.01/5  rDev -24.6%
vibe: 2.5 | quality: 3 | service: 2.75 | selection: 3.5

Visiting beer geeks love ‘t Oud Arsenaal but honestly I have never shared their appreciation for their place.
There are local bars that have a charm to them & make you feel welcome. This is not one of them in my opinion.
Every time I have been here, this place seemed hell bend on emphasizing that I am not a local. That I am new there, that I am not a regular visitor, that I don’t know the other locals etc. you know what I mean.
Opening hours are weird, sometimes they will “close” at five during the weekend. Meaning that if you are a regular, you can come in but you cannot. The place is full f people & they let more in but you get stopped at the door and they tell you to leave. Which is fun and also what kind of bar closes that early during the weekend? The times that I was allowed in, the service was weird & awkward. To recap one visit, I couldn’t order at the bar, only to the lady who was taking the order. In the meantime the guy at the bar stood there, doing nothing. When she took our orders, the waitress just turned around & repeated them to the barman, okay… She seemed bothered by the fact that I asked her. Selection is decent but also not very clear as to what they have at times. There is nothing particularly rare or special. Lots of the stuff they have you can find at plenty other bars including several other located in Antwerp. None of the beers were new to me. Going here is like going to a village and being stared out & made fun for not being that village which is definitely an authentic experience and not one I even remotely care for. This is just a place for a bunch of locals who like to feel superior to me because I live a couple of kilometers further as far as I am concerned.

Oct 30, 2013
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Filosoof from Netherlands

4.24/5  rDev +6.3%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 3.75 | food: 3.75

This is a lovely, classic Belgian Beer cafe, next to the Antwerp theatre.

When you look at the beers everyone is drinking, it's for sure: this bar is appreciated by real beer lovers. The atmosphere is great. De Koninck tastes better than in many other bars.

The only thing was that I couldn't find a beer menu. So, it seemed that they have many beers, but I couldn't find out which one exactly.

Happy waitress, enjoying her work.

Aug 18, 2013
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OWSLEY069 from Pennsylvania

4.47/5  rDev +12%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5

This is Stefan's (owner/brewer Musketeers) favorite pub. Once inside I totally get it. It is a dive kind of place with all the charm of a Belgian bar, with old signs and years of wear. A great selection of beer, including Westmalle Extra. I also got a chance to try the Chouffe Liquor and a mix of champagne and geueze, which was awesome. Played a old Belgian pub game and I sucked at it. Nice outdoor area as well. The owner was a really cool guy that hooked us up and I really recommend the place to anyone that gets to Antwerp.

Sep 30, 2011
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CRooney5787 from California

4.16/5  rDev +4.3%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4

I love 't Oud Arsenaal. It's a fantastic little bar located across from the Horta, not far off the Mier. It's also extremely close to the Ibis hotel.

The owner is a nice guy, who is fed up with the smoking ban. This pub is almost like a living room to to the regulars. They have been coming often, for decades, smoking and enjoying their beer. The owner claimed he was closing on the 1st, When the smoking ban went in effect. However, i think he's on a month long vacation. Hopefully on August first, he will open again.

The prices are great, and i like the atmosphere. I think it's a must visit, if you're in Antwerp.

Jul 18, 2011
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jrallen34 from Illinois

3.08/5  rDev -22.8%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3 | selection: 2

Decently rated and less than a hundred meters from my hotel I had to stop by here...As I walk in I'm immersed in huge cloud of cigarette smoke which is always nice. A very small place, old but cool beer mementos on the wall. The customers are regular locals, clearly out of place. The bartender was nice but didn't speak enough English to offer suggestions if needed. The draught and bottle list was nothing special at all. They had all the staple Belgian beers you would expect at any decent Belgian bar. A cool place to hang out for A drink and see some locals but not one beer that isn't on tap at 100 other places.

Nov 23, 2010
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ministoat from England

4/5  rDev +0.3%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4

This bar has a really great vibe, and sitting here felt like one of the 'proper' belgian pub experiences. The beer list was decent, but the one beer that we wanted was sold out...this was a bit disappointing as the Guldenberg was on our list of beers to try! pesky belgians drinking them all before we get there...

We ended up with two Beersel's which were a great start to our holiday, and would certainly recommend this place. Service was friendly and prompt.

Also opposite 't Oud Arsenaal is the "Horta" recommended in GBG, but to be honest it's more a posh restaurant..have an extra one here!

May 29, 2009
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ViveLaChouffe from Georgia

4.43/5  rDev +11%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4

Oud Arsenaal has been in business since 1924 and little appears to have changed since then. Wonderful atmosphere, tons of old beer signs, many from breweries no longer in existence. Cozy brown bar feel, very neighborhood pub inside.

All beer served in its proper glass. Almost standard for all Belgian bars.

Service was very friendly and prompt. We were there on a SUnday morning/early afternoon but the place was still quite busy. Our server was more than helpful explaining the monthly specials since my Dutch is just not that good!

The beer list is not enormous but the highlights are very good. Nine beers on tap with upwards of 40 bottles when I visited. A highlight for me was the Boon Faro Pertotale, my first faro on draft/cask and it was delcious.

Rodenbach was on special for the month of October and came with a little bowl of prawns. Good stuff.

A must stop in my opinion. Come for the atmosphere, stay for the beer!

Oct 27, 2008
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BeerBelcher from Ohio

3.85/5  rDev -3.5%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 3.5

Oud Arsenaal was probably the least beer-y of the places I visited in Antwerp, but it was a lot of fun. It had a very lively pub atmosphere, we sat with locals, and had a great time here despite a beer list that is a touch small by beer-geek standards.

This bar hosted a charming, older crowd that was still rowdy (and very friendly) and a decor that reminded me of a grandmother's house - wallpaper and warm orange light. More macro brew (Stella) than other places I visited. Cozy booths and a wood-burning stove. This place was packed, with everyone drinking Rodenbach, which came with a bowl of these tiny brined shrimp.

There weren't any curiosities in the beer department here - just the usual suspects which would be the envy of most American beer bars. I had a Rochefort 10 during my visit.

Pretty good proximity to Kulminator - the two stops are an easy combo. This wasn't the best beer experience I had in Antwerp (that was the Waagstuk), but it was easily the most fun.

Oct 24, 2008
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ggaughan from Pennsylvania

4.56/5  rDev +14.3%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5

After spending about 5 hours at the Kulminator on a recent Friday night, we headed over to the Oud Arsenaal to meet up with some friends that we met at the Kulminator. We were suprised to see how small the bar was but how charming it was as well. Although in Belgium, it had the feeling of an English pub as it was very sociable inside.

When we arrived we initially didn't see our newly met friends but after a few minutes we recognized a few faces and were introduced into about a half dozen others. We initially went into the bar for a beer or 2 and ending up staying until after 1pm or maybe 3 hours or so.

While there, talking and all that, I had a Rodenbach Vin de Cereale which was great, a Lindeman's Cuvee Rene Kriek and maybe a few others that I can't remember at this moment. The bartender was very friendly and helpful in recommending beers and describing them.

At one point he came out from behind the bar to let everyone know that the next night at 6pm he was going to open a 1999 Bush Millenium Magnum for the crowd but unfortunately most of us were heading to a Christmas beer fest the next day so we didn't make it back.

Although the space is small, the atmosphere is great, the place is filled with all kinds of old brewery signs and all. The selection was pretty damn good as well. Go if you can.

Dec 19, 2007
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Estarrio from Massachusetts

3.94/5  rDev -1.3%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4

This is a nice stop if you are in the area. 't Oud Arsenal is a local bar, where the local working folk come to drink. It is small and busy but has quite a bit of local charm.

The selection was decent but not mind-boggling. I tried my first "green Duvel" here and enjoyed my standby Hommelbier.

We were here about a week before Zythos and a number of members of Onder 't Schuim were in the bar. It was rather interesting to exchange pleasantries and ideals with the beer advocates of Belgium.

Service was quick, accurate and attentive. I'm well aware that the tipping standards are different in Belgium, but this is the only place where employees literally chased me down to give me my change.

Mar 08, 2007
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BlackHaddock from England

3.86/5  rDev -3.3%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 3.5

A Friday afternoon (before the Zythos fest) and the place is full of locals and Brits, who like me are over for the beer fest.

My wife and I stand at the bar until a table becomes free.

There are 7 well used, formica (dull, dis-coloured red) topped wooden tables, the tiled floor is old and its colours are begining to fade, just like the table tops. The yellowing walls hold up old metal brewery adverts from years ago. The locals are as yellow and old as the bar its self, its a proper Belgian pub!

The regular De Koninck on tap was very good, there was also the De Koninck Winter Brew and De Koninck Excelsior (cherry beer), I tried both and they were also in fine fettle.

A blackboard high up one wall lets you know what is on special offer, I think there were about 6 on the list on my visit.

We liked it

Mar 05, 2007
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GCBrewingCo from North Carolina

4.66/5  rDev +16.8%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 4

We searched for Oud Aresenaal on the previous day but did not visit when we did not see any food since that is what we were after. It was a bit on the painful side to find since it was dark and we did not have a great map. The next day it became obvious where we had lost our way. At any rate, it was not that difficult to find, just down the way from the Reubens museum.

It's not a very large place so we took our place outside. American music from the 50's, 60's, and 70's was playing in the background. The inside was small with a bar area and only a few tables.

The taps number only about four, but the beer list was impressive.We had an excellent waiter, Pieter, who knew both English and beer and later we found out he was one of the owners. He took time to entertain every question and meet every request. We had a great time at Oud Aresenaal and I would certainly return, especially if the service remains the same. Very nice!

Visited on September 12, 2006.

Oct 16, 2006
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msubulldog25 from Oregon

4.3/5  rDev +7.8%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5

We visited in the early afternoon 8 September, 2006. My wife and I sat outside under glorious sunshine and blue skies at one of several wooden tables/benches, facing Maria Pijpelincxstraat and the music academy opposite the pub. Our company on the patio was a trio of Australian tourists and a couple tables full of locals, blue-collar workers taking a leisurely 90-minute beer lunch.

Located just a block or so south of Rubenshuis (our morning destination), this wonderful pub was an enjoyable little stop on our first full day in Antwerp. We'd planned on lunch at the Horta Bistro across the street, but decided a beer on the patio sounded even better. Because we'd had a filling breakfast, we didn't mind that Oud Arsenaal has no food menu, only beers.

From the list of approximately 60-70 bottles and a handful of drafts, my wife picked a Westmalle Dubbel and I picked a cheap (1.60 euro) draft pull of Rodenbach. Later, I got my first and only taste of the sugar-sweetened lambic "faro" beer, a bottle from de Troch.

We enjoyed our relaxing hour or so stay, watching a steady stream of locals and a few tourists passing by. A brief foray inside revealed a smoky bar that looked and felt pretty much unchanged in 70+ years since it opened. Carved wood furniture and bar, marble top, orange-tiled floors. Lots of beer signage and many pinned-up fliers for concerts, shows and events upcoming in the city. One "highlight" worth mentioning is in the typically uni-sex bathroom. Check out the soap "dispenser", an interestingly phallic-shaped rod. Wet your hands and give it a tug or two...you'll see what I mean. My wife and I both thought it was pretty funny...

Certainly worth a stop when in Antwerp.

Oct 15, 2006
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UncleJimbo from Massachusetts

4.36/5  rDev +9.3%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4

I made quite a few visits to Oud Arsenaal during my stay in Antwerp back in November 2005. The bar was only a short walk from my hotel (the Ibis), and I liked the atmosphere so much, that I made a point of stopping in there each day. It was a challenge on some nights as they usually close at 7:30 PM (though this varies).

This is a small, cozy, locals' bar with about 7 tables and a small bar that stands about 6-8 people. It has an old, comfortable feel to it, though it can get a bit smokey. The table tops are red, and the floor is checkered. There are windows at the front, and a few seats outside for warmer weather. The room itself is rectangular, with the bar on the left, rear, as you enter. The walls are adorned with breweriana.

Beers on-tap during my visits were: Stella Artois, a De Koninck, Rodenbach, Westmalle, and Bier va de Maand. They also have a nice bottle list, which included Westvleteren (though only the Blue cap was available at the time). 5 taps and ~31 bottles in all. The prices were very good (€ 1.50 for a 0.25L glass of Rodenbach; bottles: € 1.90 for a XX Bitter, € 4.00 for a Westvleteren 8, € 2.30 for a Tripel Karmeliet, De Koninck Tripel for € 1.90, etc.).

The staff and customers were very friendly, and I had a lot of fun here drinking the beer and chatting with people. I am not sure about food (not sure if it is offered), as I didn't try any here. Though they close early most nights, they do open early (7:30 AM, I am told). The proprietors have a connection to the nearby beer store Bierwinkel Den Dorstvlegel, and I saw the waitress from Oud Arsenaal working there.

Definitely stop in Oud Arsenaal when you are in Antwerp. A great, cozy, unpretentious little place.

Most recent visit: 5/28/08. This is one of my favorite places in Antwerp.

Mar 20, 2006
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downes51 from England

3.75/5  rDev -6%
vibe: 2 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4

I gave this place a go on my recent trip to Antwerpen. My initial impression was very favourable... no canned music, interesting beer selection, friendly customers, not too noisy. Somewhere, in other words you can read the newspaper in peace and quiet preparatory to re-fueling. But I suddenly asked myself; where did this head-ache come from, and why are my eyes streaming? Looking around, it's a thick haze of cigarette smoke and EVERYBODY is chain-smoking. Now I'm a million miles from being sensorious about this sort of thing, in fact a little tobacco smoke usually, IMO improves the atmosphere of your typical boozer. But there are limits. I finished my drink and couldn't get out quickly enough. Perhaps I just chose a bad time. I'll give it another go one day because it looks so promising.

Feb 17, 2004
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saltydog from New York

4.72/5  rDev +18.3%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5

A wonderful, atmospheric brown bar with great period decorations and an unusually good selection of beers, including some great lambics. A single room with brown flowered wallpaper, lots of beer signs on the wall. Place is pretty busy at 11:00 in the morning on Monday! No music. Bar is from 1832, and in same family since 1924. Also check out the Dortsvlegel beer store they are connected with down the street. The owner is very knowledgable and helpful. No food here, but there are many places nearby to eat.

Oct 04, 2003
't Oud Arsenaal in Antwerpen, Belgium
Place rating: 3.99 out of 5 with 26 ratings