Travlr (2466) Washington, Washington DC | July 30, 2010| Updated February 20, 2014
This was THE place that got me interested in Belgium beer on my first visit there in 1993. Unrivaled selection, especially of aged beers. Tremendous atmosphere - small place, classical music, great cheeses and dried sausage. When Dirk is in a good mood, heís a pleasure to chat with. Lots of interesting locals as well, and plenty of beer tourists. A required stop for any beer geek.
Itís not as if my comments will make much a difference for this place since thereís dozens already, and even though itís been said many times, Kulminator is one of the best beer bars in the world. You know youíre going to visit if youíre within 200 miles, right? The beer book is unimaginably diverse, the vintages available absolutely blew me away. I was a bit bummed to not be able to get the Stille Nacht Reserva 2000, they said they were out, but was able to buy a 1979 Cantillon Framboise, 1996 Westvleteren 6 (red cap) and a 1982 Stille Nacht. If you visit, you must focus your attention on these vintage bottles, many you can not find anywhere else in the world, I imagine. The hosts were quite enjoyable, Dirk van Dyck is such a funny old man, and every time I ordered something, even when I knew I was pronouncing it correctly, he would look at me like I just puked on myself... hilarious. He and his wife eventually warmed to us, and accepted our offer of a sample of the 1979 Cantillon. My friend and I closed out Kulminator both nights we were in town. The only drawbacks is the setting, which is a dark, dusty old pub, which is nice, donít get me wrong, but I sometimes prefer a more comfortable cafe to chill in. Regardless, this place is world class.
Visited October 1, 2012 on a ridiculous tour of Europe.
The first thing I noticed about this place is how eerily similar it is to Stuffed Sandwich (California). Seriously. When you walk in the counter is on the left and behind it is the nice old lady that seems to do most of the customer service type of work. Also behind the bar are boxes piled to the ceiling full of beers. The small but respectable tap list is eclectic and on a suggestion I ordered a glass of the dry hopped DuPont, which was awesome.
Continuing with the Stuffed Sandwich parallel, on the right side of the restaurant are the tables and also tons of beer tins/signs from the last 40 years all over the walls. Beyond that is the grumpy looking old man reading the news paper ignoring the customers. Beyond the kitchen area is the cellar, which here is an actual cellar compared to a fridge at Stuffed Sandwich. Oh, and did I mention that they both started their businesses in the mid 70s? The whole experience was weird, but awesome.
I took the opportunity to try a Redbach, which was surprisingly good at 10 years old despite being probably the worst of the Rodenbach lineup. We also tried a Hoegaarden Grand Cru from the 90s which was also surprisingly good. A couple of other obscure beers were ordered and many more were drooled over but not ordered. These guys have a ton of cool stuff. Really old Chimay, Rodenbach, Rochefort, de Dolle, and plenty of others can be found on the bottle list.
Iím sure that part of what made the visit so awesome was the company but even without I would have had a great time. Looking forward to visiting again some day.
The world famous Kulminator...Really crazy place with eccentric owners. If you didnít go out of your way to order, theyíre content to just sit and read the paper. Crazy cellar list, pretty good selection of taps as well. Prices can be a bit high, but you can get pretty much whatever youíd like.
Now I know why the Kulminator is legendary. Itís an amazing place and like nowhere else. It almost defies description really and has to be experienced. The bible-like bottle list sits on a lectern on the bar, which is otherwise covered in bottles so that you have to order at the side, and a large plant in the window is threatening to take over the room. Meanwhile, empty bottles and crates are steadily encroaching on the small beer garden in an alleyway at the back, providing a kind of assault course for the bar cats. We were served there by the delightful landlady. Her husband, the taciturn Dirk, had just celebrated his 60th birthday and wasnít feeling well (not sure if the two things were related) so we were asked to order just from the list on the board or choose bottles that were easily accessible. Visit while you can! Kulminator really is a one-off.
(Visited 28 June 2013).
nate2g (1083) Boomtown!, Australia | March 14, 2010| Updated March 22, 2011
I canít add much else to what has been mentioned countless times by other Raters. Absolutley amazing beer cellar with crazy amounts of vintage bottles, some going back to the eighties. The cured meat and cheese is the only food but perfect for a boozy night here. I consumed plenty of beautiful beers with the Pannepot 2005 being the most memorable. Dirk and his wife are wonderful hosts and always keep the beers coming no matter how busy it is. Expect to meet plenty of beer geeks here! Kulminator is beer heaven.
Visited on 26/09/13 the Thursday prior to Borefts, first time Iíd been to the Kulminator in almost 7 years and the place has hardly changed except for the prices heading north !
Rambling split level bar akin to a living room/dining room with plants dotted about and the resident cat on the prowl.
Service is known to be on the slow side, however there were perhaps 15 or so other drinkers on this night so never a problem.
Great selection but expect to pay for some of it!
I asked to take 4 or 5 bottles away with me but because it was after 2300 the owner didnít want to go into the cellar - you must ask before 2300 or some shit @pumpkinturninto.be !!!
Great bar none the less and would definately hit here on any visit to Antwerpen.
This place is a beer mecca, and deservedly so. The beer menu seems to go on forever and is loaded with lots rarities. The ambience is quite dynamic, and the owners seem to be going for the pack-rat grandparent aesthetic; they succeed, incidentally. I have one major qualm with this place, however, and that is that there is a small herd of cats that range about freely in here. I happen to be fairly allergic to cats, and so I really couldnít tolerate more than 30 minutes in this bar. After that time, my eyes were itchy, my nose stuffy and my throat scratchy. That issue aside, Kulminator is world-class and obviously a must-visit if youíre in Antwerp.
Fin (941) Merton, Oxfordshire, England, England | March 21, 2011
Have been here probably 4-5 times now on my visits to Antwerp and surrounding area. I suppose that as many would say this is a must see place. The beer list is quite staggering, Iíve found myself drinking 10 yr old Westvleteren, 29 yr old Gales Prize Old ale, 10 yr old Chimays, etc, etc. If you want to taste a bit of history and try beers from before you were born, legally able to drink, or beers that have long since disappeared off of the radar then you must come here. The prices are quite bizzare at times and range from the staggering to the very, very reasonable Iím not going to quote prices youíll see when you get there. Service is hit and miss the husband and wife team work extremely hard and Iíve never seen anyone but the two of them behind the bar or working the tables when it is clear that on occasion they could do with a little extra help. On a Friday when we were the only ones in there it was quite lovely, later that night owing to the popularity of the place it was really hard work for the two them. Iíve had some good times in here, it really is a must however as good as it is for me Oude Arsenaal is the one place in Antwerp where I have struck up conversations with a multitude of people, drank great beer at very good prices and is for me the top place in Antwerp.
I had a deadly 8-hour session here several years ago. After meeting a group of guys who invited me to their table, we tucked into a few vertical tastings. Service was fine, not at all like some of the bad rumors Iíve heard. I believe if they do not want to cast pearls before swine, they are perfectly entitled to do so and I respect them for it. Overall the experience was memorable and pleasant and lived up to expectations. The atmosphere was grandmotherly, with a table-oriented seating system and lots of floral elements. In such an environment it seems like they should be serving you warm comfort food with the beer, but that is certainly not the case unless you consider cheese cubes a meal. Anyway, itís a gem that might not be around much longer, at least in its current incarnation.