If you find yourself heading to Amsterdam from Paris, or visa versa, like so many, it’s most definitely worth a stop in Antwerp, Belgium, one of the best pubs in Europe can be found there. Also, I believe “We’re on the way” is Belgium’s official travel slogan. The city is a total cross between the Netherlands and France (kinda like all of Belgium but many places lean more French). Appearance wise, Antwerp looks like you’re still in the Netherlands, but go out for a meal or a beer and you’ll see that Antwerp residents take these things more seriously than the Dutch and live life closer to the French.
While wine rules most of France, beer is king in most of Belgium and residents of Antwerp love to sit on cafe terraces while enjoying a great glass of beer. And one of the best places to enjoy an awesome beer is Kulminator. Particularly if you have a hankering to try an aged Trappist beer as they have a huge menu highlighting over 600 beers on offer from their vast beer cellar.
Most strong beers age well, and many mature after a few years to achieve more complex flavors, similar to a good wine. Most Trappist beers are good for a solid 5 years. But when kept in cellar like conditions, the Kulminator believes strong beers can be consumed long after their “expiry” date (debatable, but worth a try!).
On separate occasions, I tried 2 aged beers. The first was a 1996 Rochefort 6, complete with loads of cellar dust on the bottle. It was priced well on the menu for a quality beer that was well over a decade old. I’ll be honest, that was a little too aged for me and perhaps it was the psychological aspect of drinking such an old beer, but I felt a smidge ill for just a bit afterwards. Nothing serious, but my aged beer endevour was over for the evening. Only fresh beers from then on, but no worries, Kulminator has you covered with an excellent selection of fresh beers too.
On the 2nd occasion, I decided to try a 2004 Chimay Blue, diving just a few years past the expiry date. In recent years, Chimay has begun overproducing and exporting more of their beer. Subsequently, the quality of their beers has begun to decline. Fortunately, you can go back in time at the Kulminator and enjoy some matured Chimay’s from the good old days. I definitely thought that was a worthwhile beer.
If you’re even more adventurous, and have a fatter wallet than us, you can even try Russian imperial stouts from the 1980’s, that stem from popular old breweries that have since closed their doors for business.
The Kulminator is also a lovely and quaint pub to grab a beer, and has been voted best bar in the world on several recent occasions by ratebeer. It earns a perfect score of 100 from both them and beeradvocate so it’s definitely worth a stop off the train. Check out lovely Antwerp while you’re at it. It’s on the way to the Kulminator.
Hours: Monday 8pm-12am, Tuesday-Saturday 4pm-12am, Sunday closed
phone: +32 (0) 32 32 45 38 (Though, why call? Just go in for a beer!)