You’re in for a treat. The Kulminator in Antwerp is the best beer bar in the world.
the street, quite a walk, from the secondary train station in Antwerp is a local
pub with a reputation for 100+ beers. Except for that, inside, this bar could be
in Chicago or Detroit. We can recommend it for the traveling American.
Terry had Hoegaarden Kriek, a blend of Hoegaarden and Lindemans Kriek (both
on tap) with a dash of raspberry syrup. Both the sour and the wheat come
through. It’s like a pale kriek and immediately made Terry’s Top 10 list.
The first half of the Camargue’s menu
Brussels the Delirium Cafe opened in
2004. They guarantee 2004 beers available at any time and have had up to 2500.
Of these, 900 are usually Belgian beers. About 10 taps.
There is some upstairs seating but the place is essentially a basement hole
that gets way crowded in the evenings and, we’re told, absolutely packed when
there’s a band. Visit on a dreary afternoon and you’ll find a dozen other beer
geeks pouring over their phonebook-sized and incredibly detailed menu. Blues and
jazz background music is just right.
The staff is knowledgeable and even ready with a suggestion. This place will
quickly become widely known as one of the best beer bars in the world. Was also there on a busy evening in 1999 with a band and probably 75 patrons.
Yep, that’s a beer menu on the bar.
Paters Vaetje is right at the front steps of the Vrouwkathedrall in
Antwerp. There is no better place to enjoy an afternoon.
Be aware, though, the Dames is reached by walking through the Herren.
Waagstuk on the north side of downtown Antwerp is a lovely place with a
mid-square patio and a small enclosed courtyard as well as a small interior.
There’s not much food, of course, but you can get omelets and soup.
They sell their own beer, Zeppelin, which commemorates the night of August
24, 1914 when this square (Stadswaag) was bombed by, you guessed it, a Zeppelin.
Now they’re getting even by getting German tourists bombed on this.
- Zeppelin – Contract brewed for t’ Waagstuk by Bios in Ertvelde. Ostensibly
a brune but it’s very dark and seems to be licorice-based. Call it a highly
bitter, effervescent, imperial brune. The first taste is truly shocking, then
it calms down to be a unique, quaffable beer.
take a breath now. It’s time to talk about the Kulminator – the best beer bar on
Consider a 38-page 1-line entry beer menu. Consider that about half of these
are dated vintage beers. Consider that some of these are priced under 2€,
most are under 4€ (of course some are over 20€).
Consider the only US beer on the menu is Hair of the Dog Fred.
No TVs, just classical music. Plenty of compatriots to share war stories and
They have a big lists of British ales from many years. They make trips to London
and buy a bunch (understatement alert). It’s a privilege to have owners Leen
and Dirk share their collection with us. The bottles smell musty like a first
edition of a Sherlock Holmes book. Some have held up well, some not so well. Go
for the stronger beers of course – I’d hate to think what a 27 year old Sheaperd
Neame Light Ale is like.
|The tap menu. TAP!|
The Winter beers. Just a half-page of the 38-page menu
The 1978 British beers.
A small part of the fridge.
Some special beers that aren’t for sale as they are the last bottle.
Bass No. 1 Barley Wine
Thomas Hardy’s 1978
Courage Imperial Russian Stout 1976.
And, interestingly enough, an Old Rasputin.
Here’s what I had in the 9 hours I spent there:
The Confederation of Belgian Brewers in Brussels has had a guild house on the
Grand Place since 1695. There’s a small museum in the basement that displays a
few tools, old and new, and has a travelogue style movie about Belgian
For 4€ you can wander around for a while
and then have a beer from one of the 2 titles they keep on tap – but they won’t
tell you whose beer you’re drinking. One day there it was a light golden pils
and a Belgian red ale.
There’s just a couple of ancient bar games on display.
- Arend – On tap. A home blend at a small, well-known bar in Antwerp,
the De Groote Witte. Too sour. Turns out it’s a wit with a cheap lambic
added. Dark red with a flaming pink chunky head that leaves red chunks
as the foam dissipates. Very little cherry notes. Disappointing.
- Brugse Tripel – On tap. Blond. Strong stuff. Nice. Right tasting.
- Brugs Wit – On tap. Whiter than most but not weak. No orange nor
tartness. Some bitterness.
- De Koninck Blonde.
- De Koninck Tripel – On tap. Bright oak blond tripel with lots of
basic malt and lots of hops to bitter it up. 8%.
- Floris Fraises – A wit with strawberry added before bottling. Fresh
- Gordon Highland Scotch Ale – On tap. Big malt scotch.
Vanilla. Roast. Concentrated. Dark brown walnut. 8%.
- Gordon Xmas – On tap. So balanced. Actually in harmony. Like butter.
Wonderfully quaffable. Could drink it by the quart. OK, maybe one quart.
At Peters Vaetje sitting at the entrance to the cathedral listening to a
street string quartet with the sun peeking through the clouds.
- Haecht Witbier – Somehow lighter in color, body, and presence than
most wits. A quick-drinking beer.
- Hoegaarden Grand Cru – On tap. They distill the essence of their
great wit leaving out all the unnecessary stuff. Like Colman Chapman
said at Lotus, “add lightness”.
- Judas – On tap. Big blond worthy of the name. Big belch too. White
grape in the nose. A bit hot on the tongue but not offensive. All light
malt. Dark blonde character throughout. From Maes.
- Petrus Blanche – Bright solid gold.
- Petrus Brune Double – Served in a proper Brit pint glass. In
fact a Bavik pint glass. Deep brown. Spicy background underlies the
sharp-edged brown ale with some toasty character.
- Rodenbach. On tap. Deep brown, black. Sour ale. Roasty sour. Malty
- Rulles Triple – Lots of candy sugar in this one. Has a 14-day
fermentation using Orval yeast, then 4 weeks in the secondary. Delicate
sourness with citric and a bit of honey taste also. 8.3%.
- Steendonk Wit – On tap. Very cloudy. Very white; more so than
bottled as I remember. Plenty of coriander. Plenty of bitter aftertaste.
- Tripel Karmeliet – On tap. Blond triple abbey. Bright nose and
taste. All light malt. Solid.
- Westmalle Trappist – On tap. Served nicely warmish. Trappist with
green “fresh” distinct edges between the malt, hops, chocolate, sweet,
and burnt sugar. Not as strongly alcoholic as I remember.