Travlr (3055) Charlotte , North Carolina | 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, he’s a pleasure to chat with. Lots of interesting locals as well, and plenty of beer tourists. A required stop for any beer geek.
It’s not as if my comments will make much a difference for this place since there’s dozens already, and even though it’s been said many times, Kulminator is one of the best beer bars in the world. You know you’re going to visit if you’re 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, don’t 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.
I’m 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.
A relic of a place, cramped, cluttered and comfortable. The only pretence comes from some of the annoying customers. Looking for an old vintage or defunct brewery? This is the place. Also the only place I have seen in Belgium with a water station. Cash only, so bring plenty.
The world famous Kulminator...Really crazy place with eccentric owners. If you didn’t go out of your way to order, they’re 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 you’d like.
nate2g (1290) Boomtown!, Australia | March 14, 2010| Updated March 22, 2011
I can’t 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.
Now I know why the Kulminator is legendary. It’s 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 wasn’t 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).
Fin (1171) 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, I’ve 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 I’m not going to quote prices you’ll see when you get there. Service is hit and miss the husband and wife team work extremely hard and I’ve 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. I’ve 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.
Cult beer bar, with a pretty epic vintage list. I’m sure the list was better years ago, as the number of rare lambics available now was fairly low. Charming atmosphere, with a feel unlike any other bar I’ve been to -- there is ivy strung across the place and the family owner’s cat roaming around. The woman owner was very nice and hospitable; the man didn’t seem the friendliest. Prices are very reasonable for what you’re getting. They have some snacks as well - some nice cheeses and sausages. Amazing place and an absolute must for any Belgium beer trip.