Day Four, Antwerp: Lunch and Sightseeing, Kulminator, Dinner, Elfde Gebod

We woke up fairly late on Tuesday and went to Horta for breakfast. We got there too late and ended up having to get lunch, with which we had a round. I got the pasta in pesto sauce with sun-dried tomatoes. I don't remember what David got, but I vaguely remember cream sauce.

526. Brugge Tripel

The name on BA is listed as Brugse Tripel, but people seem to be reviewing Brugge Tripel on the same page.

Beer Stats:
Brewery: Brouwerij De Gouden Boom
Alcohol: 9.00%
Serving: Bottle,
Style: Tripel, BJCP Style Guide

Appearance (3.0): Pours a clear amber with a smooth, white head that fades to thin layer.

Smell (3.5): Fruity bananas, some graininess, a little peppery spice.

Taste (4.0): Berry and banana fruitiness upfront. Moving into the finish there are grainy notes as well as some peppery spice. The finish also has a nice hoppy bitterness that balances nicely.

Mouthfeel (3.5): Light-bodied with high carbonation.

Drinkability (3.5): Overly carbonated.

Overall (3.6)

527. Steendonk

Beer Stats:
Brewery: Brouwerij Palm NV
Alcohol: 4.50%
Serving: Tap
Style: Witbier, BJCP Style Guide

Appearance (3.5): Pours a cloudy, straw color with a white head that thins to a ring, leaving patchy lace.

Smell (3.0): Bananas, cloves and yeast. The pepper and characteristic witbier spice are present, but very light.

Taste (2.0): Lightly sweet fruitiness, bananas especially. There's some graininess and spice, but nothing strong or characteristic of a witbier. Lightly hoppy.

Mouthfeel (2.0): Watery with low carbonation.

Drinkability (3.0): Watery without sufficient carbonation, therefore not that great to drink.

Overall (2.6)

After lunch we visited Rubenshuis, the former home of painter Peter Paul Rubens. I was pretty tired, so I honestly don't remember much, other than being impressed at the size of the house. Afterwards we stopped at a café for coffee before heading to Bierhuis Kulminator.

Kulminator was definitely my favorite bar that we visited while in Belgium. The brightly lit interior had large plants growing near the front window and dried hop vines on the ceiling towards the back. Classical music played in the background, providing a nice atmosphere. There were several large wooden tables arranged throughout bar that were topped by large beer bottles used to hold candles and variety of press clippings. I counted at least four different cats that lounged around the bar. The selection was good, but the selection of aged beers was amazing.

We stayed for several hours, during which time the bar never got crowded. There were two older men who sat at the table next to us for awhile drinking Lefe and Westmalle, a group of American guys our age from Connecticut, and a couple who came in around dinner time.

Bierhuis Kulminator

Dried hops

One of the bar cats

Two of the bar cats

David, intoxicated

Thom, intoxicated

Their card

Beer Stats:
Brewery: Brouwerij Corsendonk
Alcohol: 8.50%
Serving: Bottle, 11.2 oz.
Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale, BJCP Style Guide

Appearance (4.0): Pours a lightly hazy amber-brown with a fluffy brown head that slowly fades, leaving heavy lace.

Smell (4.0): Sweet cherry aroma, caramel and a light vinuous character.

Taste (4.0): Upfront there are toasty malts, with a mild roasted character. Light tartness that's reminiscent of cherries emerges in the center. The finish has some peppery spice and bitterness.

Mouthfeel (3.5): Light to medium-bodied with high carbonation.

Drinkability (4.0): Well-balanced, no character dominates over the others.

Overall (3.95)

529. Liefmans Kriekbier

Beer Stats:
Brewery: Brouwerij Liefmans
Alcohol: 5.00%
Serving: Tap
Style: Fruit Beer, BJCP Style Guide

Appearance (4.0): Pours a lightly hazy orange-red with a foamy pink head that fades to a thin ring.

Smell (4.0): Sour and acidic with notes of cherries, as well as a moderate funkiness that emerges upon swirling.

Taste (4.5): Very sour throughout, there's some sweetness that emerges with the cherries, but it's always dominated by the sourness and persistent cherry tartness.

Mouthfeel (4.5): Light-bodied, low carbonation, very dry.

Drinkability (3.5): Sour, definitely a sipper.

Overall (4.2)

519. Oud Beersel Oude Gueuze Vieille 2001

Beer Stats:
Brewery: Brouwerij Oud Beersel
Year: 2001
Alcohol: 6.00%
Serving: Bottle, 750 mL
Style: Gueuze, BJCP Style Guide

Appearance: Pours a cloudy golden, with a massive off-white head that fades to a thin ring.

Smell: Sour and funky with a little bit of fruitiness. The fruitiness becomes stronger upon swirling.

Taste: This has definitely mellowed with age. The sourness is diminished, but the funkiness has increased.

Mouthfeel: Light-bodied, light carbonation with a dry finish.

Drinkability: Nicely balanced and mellowed.

Overall: I think age has definitely improved this Gueuze.

33. Chimay Grande Réserve 1999

An aged bottle from 1999 served at cellar temperature in a Chimay chalice. They had bottles of Chimay Blue all the way back to 1981.

Beer Stats:
Brewery: Bières de Chimay
Year: 1999
Alcohol: 9.00%
Serving: Bottle, 11.2 oz.
Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale, BJCP Style Guide

Appearance (4.5): Pours a hazy brown-ruby with a creamy beige head that fades to a thin film, leaving patches of lace.

Smell (5.0): This definitely smells aged. Rich and malty with notes of caramel, toffee, and dark fruit. There are also vinuous notes as well as some alcoholic spiciness.

Taste (4.5): Malty upfront with toasty flavors as well as sweet caramel and dark fruit, sweet, but not too sweet. The finish has a light tartness with pepper, alcohol and a very light bitterness.

Mouthfeel (5.0): Full-bodied and thick, with low carbonation.

Drinkability (4.5): Smooth and full flavored, but mellow.

Overall (4.65): This is definitely one that improves with age. I think that it might be worth it to buy a case of Chimay every year just to cellar.

195. Orval Trappist Ale 2002

A dust-covered 2002 bottle, served in an Orval chalice.

Beer Stats:
Brewery: Brasserie d'Orval S.A.
Year: 2002
Alcohol: 6.20%
Serving: Bottle, 11.2 oz.
Style: Belgian Pale Ale, BJCP Style Guide

Appearance (4.5): Pours a hazy-golden with a thick, off-white head that fades to a thin film leaving heavy patches of lace.

Smell (5.0): Strong Brettanomyces aroma as well as some grassy and citric aromas.

Taste (5.0): Tart citric and Brett characters, with a light sweetness. The finish has a nice mellowed hop bitterness.

Mouthfeel (4.5): Light to medium-bodied, low carbonation with a dry finish.

Drinkability (4.5): Tart with nice dominant Brett character.

Overall (4.8)

530. Gouden Carolus Carolus D'Or - Cuvée Van De Keizer

Beer Stats:
Brewery: Brouwerij Het Anker
Alcohol: 11.00%
Serving: Bottle, 750 mL
Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale, BJCP Style Guide

Appearance (4.0): Pours a hazy brown with a reddish tint. A thick off-white head fades to a sudsy quarter-inch layer, leaving patchy lace.

Smell (4.0): Sweet and very fruity smelling. Lots of bananas and peppery alcohol. Swirling brings out notes of cherry and raisins.

Taste (3.5): Very sweet with nice fruitiness: bananas, raisins and light tartness. There's a very mild alcoholic spice in the finish.

Mouthfeel (3.5): Thick and full-bodied with low carbonation.

Drinkability (4.5): Smooth and sweet. Neither the alcohol nor sweetness is overpowering.

Overall (3.8)

531. Westvleteren Special 6 1998

David spotted some unlabeled bottles with red caps on the shelf behind the bar. He asked about them and was told that they were bottles of Westvleteren 6 from 1998, the last year that it was produced. We ordered two bottles, which were served in Abdij St. Sixtus goblets at cellar temperature.

Beer Stats:
Brewery: Brouwerij Westvleteren
Year: 1998
Alcohol: 6.20%
Serving: Bottle, 11.2 oz.
Style: Belgian Pale Ale, BJCP Style Guide

Appearance (4.5): Pours a hazy dark-brown with ruby tints. A one-inch beige head fades to a quarter-inch layer leaving sheets of lace.

Smell (5.0): Smells aged. Notes of tart cherries, dark fruit and light toffee maltiness. Has the characteristic vinous aroma of an aged beer. Smells amazing.

Taste (4.5): Sweet with some malty caramel notes and fruity notes of dates and raisins, not too sweet though. Light peppery spice and a nice amount of hoppy bitterness.

Mouthfeel (4.5): Full-bodied, low carbonation.

Drinkability (5.0): Mellow, but flavorful.

Overall (4.65): It's amazing how well this beer has held up, very delicious. I feel very lucky to have had one.

After leaving Kulminator we went to Congo for dinner. David had lasagna in... cream sauce. I had pasta in pesto sauce. We then found an internet cafe and made some phone calls and checked e-mail.

After dinner we went to Elfde Gebod for a final round before walking around the city and turning in. The bar was near the cathedral. David sat the round out and opted to have a piece of cake, which came with a large glob of whipped cream. The inside of the bar was heavily decorated with religious imagery. David implied that the waitress, who was very cute, was a teenager. She was actually 22.

Then why are so many nuns strippers?

532. La Trappe Quadrupel

Beer Stats:
Brewery: Bierbrouwerij De Koningshoeven B.V.
Alcohol: 10.00%
Serving: Bottle
Style: Quadrupel, BJCP Style Guide

Appearance (4.0): Pours a clear amber with a beige head that fades to a thin sudsy layer leaving plentiful lace.

Smell (3.5): Dark fruit, light pepper, and hint of alcohol.

Taste (4.0): A neutral grainy character upfront moves into a raisiny sweetness. The finish is lightly spicy with a trailing bitterness. Not too sweet.

Mouthfeel (4.0): Medium-bodied, moderate carbonation with a lightly dry finish.

Drinkability (3.5): Not too sweet, but it could use a bit more spiciness or bitterness to balance.

Overall (3.85)

The Lonely Planet guide said "The Boots" was the most disreputable bar in Belgium. We walked by, the plan was to decide if we would stop in based on the look of the place. It was closed, but I think the sign would have kept us out if it had been open.

David in front of the most disreputable bar in Belgium.

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