Ambiance - What to say? This is an experience beyond the ordinary. Cafť like place run by a senior couple. Tons of beer-related old posters, tap signs and other trinkets everywhere. Fairly clean yet. Sort of organized chaos of beer-related stuff, old dried branches with leaves and everything in between. Patio in the back looked very cozy even though we sat indoors. Beer-releated trinkets outside seemed more mixed up with cat-related trinkets. Saw one cat but it sadly wasnít up for any petting session. The place radiates calm and culture. Take it for what it is and take the time to relax and enjoy yourself and this will be the beer experience of your lifetime. Service - Very friendly and fairly fast. Place was close to empty at the time of our visit and I can see how service could get slow if itís full but I fully expect it to be just as friendly. Selection - Insane vintage beer list (and some solid tap offerings). My highlights were the Stille Nacht Reserva 2005 and Rodenbach Vin de Cereal 2004. Food - Did not eat. Value - Extremely fair for the rarities on the menu. Additional comments - Wow!!!
If I have to use one word, Iíll say Unique. Weirest beer place I ever been, but for sure a most if you go to Antwerpen. Maybe at the begining is a little overwhelming for the ambience and amazing vintage beer selection, but then you sit and relax is fantastic.... I drunk some great beers on tap and then a fantastic Pannepeut 2010.
The place looks rather inconspicuous from the outside with a tacky, yellow signboard. The inside is equally surprising, cluttered with a ton of old objects like clocks, autumn plants, beer boxes, peculiar paraphernalia, and cats running around. The place is owned by an elderly couple and does not function particularly efficiently, it is often closed just because they do not feel like opening it, but despite all that they managed to collect a marvelous panoply of beers from around Belgium. Some are outright ancient like the 1977 Vieille Villers I drank there, whereas others exist in several versions to allow for a timeline-like comparison. The food served is good, though not outstanding it befits the general atmosphere. With time the place grows on you and you begin to feel particularly homely and cozy. Overall this is a one in a million bar, pub, tavern... emporium perhaps - nonetheless an absolutely necessary stop on any beer enthusiastís trip to Belgium.
So my first confession is that Iím a new convert to aged beers. Generally I like them fresh, but a year old Orval, a two year old Westy 12 and a 3 year old Tripel Karmaliet have changed all that. Never-the-less I was uneasy going into Kulminator. More so because it is not like any other bar you will have been into. Imagine a ground floor English terrace house converted into a bar, with tables through to the back garden, cats roaming around and an assortment of beer clutter everywhere. I walked in and didnít know where to sit. If you are on your own donít be put off. Just find a perch and order a beer. The star in this place is the beer. A board on the table at the front lists about 10-15 aged beers available. When I was in they had a Mikkeller barley wine, Chimay Grand Cru, Timmermans kriekenlabic, Bush Noel and a bunch of other aged beers. Plus a huge cellar list. Whilst I was uncomfortable in this environment at first, once Iíd had a beer I started to settle in and enjoy it. This is all about the beer. The clientele was mainly locals and a few odd-ball beer tickers. If I lived here I know Iíd become a regular. The aged list is so intriguing and if you consider yourself a beer fan you MUST come here. The owner and his wife are providing am amazing service to beer lovers. Go in, try the beers and soon youíll be ageing your own stuff at home. As if you needed to get even more geeky about beer!