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The Birch

Not Rated.
The BirchThe Birch
BA SCORE
100
world-class

34 Ratings
Ratings: 34
Reviews: 23
rAvg: 4.7
pDev: 6.17%
Taps: 22
Bottles: 100
Cask: Y
Beer-to-Go: Y
[ Bar, Eatery ]

1231 W Olney Rd
Norfolk, Virginia, 23507-1314
United States
phone: (757) 962-5400

visit their websiteWebsite view map and get directionsMap @thebirchbar

Notes:
None, yet.

(Place added by: DoctorB2B on 01-03-2011)
Place: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 34 | Reviews: 23 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of dollybil
5/5  rDev +6.4%

dollybil, Jun 20, 2014
Photo of John_Beeryman
5/5  rDev +6.4%

John_Beeryman, Jul 20, 2014
Photo of DoctorB2B
5/5  rDev +6.4%

The best place to go in Hampton Roads for craft beer on tap. The taps rotate on a near-nightly basis from one outstanding beer to the next. Opening day they showed what was to come when they had Firestone Walker 14 on tap ... I mean who else around here can say that? As far as I know, no one.

The bottle selection is just as nice. A couple of weeks ago, I split a bottle of Ola Dubh Reserve 30. Again, who else around here can say that? No one.

The rare beers are here to stay (relatively speaking anyway, because they sell out quickly).

I haven't had the food so I can't speak to it, but they offer different cheese to pair with many of the beers as well as an adult grilled cheese that I've been told is AMAZING!

I've been there since day one, and I'll be there until I leave this place.

DoctorB2B, Feb 14, 2011
Photo of timc13
5/5  rDev +6.4%

This is the best craft beer bar I have ever been too. Unbelievable selection both draft and bottles. If you are any where near the hampton roads area and you love craft beer, do your self a favor and go and check them out. You will not be disappointed.

timc13, Sep 09, 2013
Photo of FenwaySquid
5/5  rDev +6.4%

Stopped in a few weeks ago but the visit is still etched into my mind. This is easily one of the coolest bars I've ever visited.

The atmosphere was great. No tv's blaring out sporting events (which normally I'd love) or loud music. Overall it was quiet and inviting, the decor inside was perfect. I felt like I'd be comfortable hanging out there for a while.

Service was fantastic. The guy working the bar (I think the owner) was quick and obviously knew his stuff and was ready to offer recommendations.

The selection is world class. I don't know of any other establishment with that many beers available. It's also the first bar I've ever seen without a typical swill tap (pbr, bud light, etc.) to help pay the bills. The only knock I can find is it's lacking a little as far as session beers. Most everything's high ABV, which makes having more than 1 or 2 risky if you've got to drive.

I didn't try any food, but the menu's pretty small. Grilled cheese sandwiches, soft pretzels, or cheese boards. They've got quite the selection of gourmet if you're into that kind o thing.

For value it is a little pricey. I don't think I saw any bottles or drafts for less than $5, and most were more than that. But in the end it's all worth it.

Overall, like I said at the top this is one of the coolest bars I've ever visited, period. I loved the atmosphere and the selection is insane. I do wish they'd get some more low gravity stuff and expand the kitchen. Then again, if it's not broken, don't fix it, right?

Bottom line, if you're in the Hampton Roads area you need to find your way over and check this place out.

FenwaySquid, Jan 02, 2012
Photo of Beer-A-Lot
5/5  rDev +6.4%

Beer-A-Lot, Jun 26, 2014
Photo of newcomer81
5/5  rDev +6.4%

newcomer81, May 21, 2014
Photo of ohhsnap
5/5  rDev +6.4%

ohhsnap, Dec 30, 2013
Photo of Anyportinastorm
4.9/5  rDev +4.3%

I've recently moved away from the Hampton Roads area and I would like to say that the Birch was somewhat of a light in the darkness for me.

Living in a predominantly military area it can be excruciatingly difficult to find a watering hole that's as comfortable and pleasant. The ambiance truly is one of a kind of the Norfolk area and the eclectic music selection is always interesting at the worst. It's always nice to get away from the Navy or ODU bars for a change.

Ben and Malia do a wonderful job of keeping their patrons satisfied with their wealth of knowledge of what they're selling. The rest of the staff is surprisingly knowledgeable about the selection and if they can't answer a question they tend to find the answer quickly.

The selection is impeccable. There isn't really anything else to be said.

As far as I know the food is very good. I've only ever had the grilled cheese sandwich, cheese boards and some mixed nuts. It's not often that you find such a small a place on the East Coast that serves sandwiches on sourdough, so that is a major plus in my book. They also serve soft pretzels and popcorn that always smell great.

All in all, at the Birch you get what you pay for. If I ever return to Norfolk I'll be sure to be a regular customer again. Especially if they keep that Faro.

Anyportinastorm, Sep 30, 2011
Photo of kindacold
4.9/5  rDev +4.3%

I started going here about 6 weeks ago, and I have consistently been impressed. Every week, they have a fresh beer menu that is just phenomenal. As some people have stated, the beers here are not cheap...but you don't come to this place to get plastered, you come to enjoy beer.

That's what is so unique about this place...it's a beer bar. They have a bit of food they serve...amazing grilled cheese, some bar food, pb&j...but their cheese plates are outstanding.

Some of the beers you get here just cannot be found anywhere else in VA, and that includes near DC.

The owners are very friendly and knowledgeable, as well as the wait staff. If you don't know what to order (and with so many uncommon and rare beers, this is a common occurrence), the staff there will be able to help you along.

If you haven't tried this place, I highly recommend it. You won't regret it.

kindacold, Jul 07, 2011
Photo of Geuzedad
4.86/5  rDev +3.4%

Just got introduced to this place by my son. To say I was totally blown away would be an understatement. The atmosphere was perfect, great music, no rowdy crowds, well lit, and great patrons enjoying great beer. Next were the owners Ben and Malia. Two wonderful people who's knowledge of beer is amazing. They are both very friendly and inviting and make sure your experience is superb. Next were the beers. What an amazing assortment. Something for every taste and a selection like none I have seen anywhere else in the Tidewater area. If your looking for a great experience and the opportunity to sample some of the best hard to find beers then the Birch is for you!

Geuzedad, Feb 21, 2011
Photo of Mantooth
4.86/5  rDev +3.4%

One of the best beer-geek bars I've been to. An amazing assortment of drafts, and a great selection of tough-get bottles - all 20% off if you're taking them home. No sports vibe, or chain feel, just a bar dedicated to the love of beer. The cheese plates looked good, we didn't eat, and they had a neat guide for pairing brews and cheese. Our bartender was very knowledgeable. If you're a true beer geek, you'll love this place. Not to be missed.

Mantooth, Apr 09, 2014
Photo of Hanzo
4.84/5  rDev +3%

Visited last night for a taste of Parabola. Atmosphere is excellent, very laid back, relaxed and welcoming vibe. Fantastic selection of beers in both bottle and on tap. Beers are served in proper glassware and the service is top notch with a polite check in every ten min or so as I sipped on my delicious beverage.

The prices were a tad high in my opinion but that will not stop me from coming back. I highly recommend this place if you happen to be in Norfolk and are looking for a fantastic beer bar.

My only suggestion is to expand the food section a bit, would have been nice to have something besides grilled cheese to appease the wife though she did love her "craft" ginger ale she had.

Hanzo, Jun 07, 2012
Photo of Cubatobaco
4.84/5  rDev +3%

If you are not looking for this place, you're not going to find it. A friend of mine mentioned to me that this place sold growler, so I decided to make the trip and check them out. I believe I have found my new hang out on Saturdays.

It is located back off the road a little, tucked away in an industrial area that hardly has any traffic. The inside is dimly lit by low wattage lights and white strands of lights draped over a line of empty growlers at the top of their shelves. On the chalk board to the left, you will find their list of brews, most of which are amazing, giving you the country of origin and price per glass or growler. The bar is in an L-shape and behind it you will find a giant cellar with bottles that you can purchase or a line of taps for what is ready to be served.

I could go on and on about the service Ben and his wife provide, but I will leave it to you to experience it. They are always changing up the menu and the taps are never the same. Do yourself a favor and visit this place. The prices are amazing and if you see a bottle you would like, and you want to take it home to drink, you'll get 20% off. Enjoy your stay! I'll be there this Saturday for sure.

Cubatobaco, Jun 20, 2013
Photo of Zraly
4.81/5  rDev +2.3%

There really isn't much I can say that hasn't already been said about The Birch. So rather than writing a thesis on its merits, here is a quick summary of The Birch:

This is THE place for anyone who cares about and loves beer. Always a class-act selection of B. United imports, as well as a few local and USA craft brews to round out its usual offerings. Excellent cheese plates and as of recent, they also offer goat cheese truffles, making this an incredible place for a night cap.

There are no burgers here, no Bud Lite, and I very much love this place for that exact reason. Ambiance is always chill, and it is a premiere spot to take your sweetie and/or someone you are trying to impress who also happens to have good taste. Even if the person doesn't have good taste, they'll know they should and what that is once they leave here.

Service is excellent. Ben is fabulous, Malia seems to do a fine job of keeping emails and social networking sites up-to-date, and Mary will works her ass off anytime we are there. We are so happy The Birch has been successful so far. If you are in Norfolk, please go to The Birch.

Zraly, Jul 12, 2013
Photo of porknwhiskey
4.8/5  rDev +2.1%

Had to work in Norfolk for a few days and did a search for "beer bars" in town. I knew when I checked out their list I was going to have to spend some time there. When I arrived the staff / owners were extremely friendly and engaged me to find out my likes. After that it was a non stop string of suggestions (sours mostly because damn I love 'em) that all hit home. Their list is pretty euro-centric but they also had some american craft beers. Lots of Belgian and Italian selections including a number of sours the night I was in. I picked up a few bottles before I left of extremely hard to find beers. Definitely one of my favorite beer bars. They had a light food menu but it appears there's always a food truck right outside, which the night I was there also rocked. I highly recommend making a detour to go here.

porknwhiskey, Oct 08, 2012
Photo of abrahm
4.8/5  rDev +2.1%

After chasing beers for years in Hampton Roads, I was lucky to stumble upon this place. On Jan 3 2011, I wandered next door from my favorite watering hole to discover The Birch, and I have been a regular ever since. The atmosphere is wonderful. There is no shortage of chairs. There are no TVs. The background music is great. The lighting is almost perfect - I only wish I could turn up the lighting for a moment to take a better look at some beers before I drank them. The beer selection is daunting, fresh, and never the same. Virginia's distributors are the only thing holding this place back. The proprietors genuinely love beer. The beer is served in appropriate glassware. The atmosphere is friendly and inclusive. And to top it all off, you can buy beer to go before midnight.

I'm not going to say this place changed my life, but this place is certainly responsible for launching me on a journey to discover beer and what beer can be.

abrahm, May 27, 2011
Photo of JJStout83
4.78/5  rDev +1.7%

This is a new spot for me. I've been a few times but I am truly impressed. Ben and Malia are so nice, and they really know their stuff when it comes to awesome beers and food pairings. The progressive grilled cheese menu and cheese boards were an unexpected but pleasant change to the usual bar fare forced upon patrons at nearly every other watering hole (this was a very welcome surprise). The constantly evolving "on tap" menu ensures that you will never get bored with stagnate offerings or the tire old "mill hunk" brews. Special events including, "43 Hours of Sour" and "Raise a Glass to Find a Cure" present an even greater range of phenomenal beer to choose from. The Birch is warm and cozy, yet very efficient as a business. The atmosphere has a laid back fluidity about it-familiar without being overbearing. It may seem pricey to a novice but to someone who knows what they are looking for, you definitely get your money's worth. It is a small yet knowledgable team of beer and food lovers. I hold this establishment in the highest regard, it is a haunt I will enjoy for a very long time.

JJStout83, Oct 16, 2013
Photo of BoilerUpNavy
4.75/5  rDev +1.1%

BoilerUpNavy, Jul 06, 2014
Photo of EvilBambi
4.75/5  rDev +1.1%

EvilBambi, Feb 21, 2014
Photo of LambicKing
4.75/5  rDev +1.1%

Late to the review party here, but:

First visited The Birch in January 2011 when was living in Belgium and temporarily in Norfolk for school...The Birch had only been open for a couple of weeks at this point. At the time, Ben and Malia were the only bar owners in Norfolk with a consistent supply of interesting and proven European beers. Both of them were quick to geek out with me and other customers over beer. How refreshing...most bar owners couldn't give a damn about talking at length with you, they just want your money/business. When asked where I live (Belgium at the time), I remember Ben saying, "I fucking hate you" with a smirk on his face. Ha!

Fast forward almost a year, I was now living in the Hampton Roads area and visited The Birch when I could and was happy to know Ben and Malia were cool with folks bringing things to share from time to time. Very cool. I'm now gone from the area and in Florida, but whenever I'm back in town, The Birch is one of my mandatory stops. Period. Even if just to say hello to Malia and a few old beer friends.

Ambiance is awesome...simple and inviting. Soft background music adds to the experience without drowning out conversations. No TVs...huge plus. Never overly crowded, but there's always a consistent crowd...perfect for old fuckers like me over 30. People are here simply for the quality of the company and quality of the beer.

Food is solid and gradually improved over time...nice selection of charcuterie, gourmet grilled cheeses and other tasty snacks to pair well with your pour of choice. IIRC, get the Tilquin sandwich!

Beer selection is better than any bar in Hampton Roads (even though I scored a '99 Cantillon Gueuze in 2012 at The Bier Garden). Lots of interesting European choices and they are also open to the idea of carrying the better American offerings as well.

Prices are right in line with the quality of beer you receive. You can't expect a $5 snifter/tulip (because fuck shaker pints) from a keg that costs $400-800, in some cases. Malia certainly makes sure customers are happy. She knows her beer and will tell you about it with a smile.

There's a reason Jean Van Roy trusts Malia with hosting Zwanze Day. I look forward to the day when I can visit again with Mike, Dick, Abe, Seth, Tim, Chad and all the other degenerates. Do yourself a favor - visit The Birch if you are in the area. You won't be disappointed.

LambicKing, Oct 05, 2014
Photo of bcp5296d
4.75/5  rDev +1.1%

bcp5296d, Feb 20, 2014
Photo of galengueuze
4.63/5  rDev -1.5%

The Birch just opened up the first of this year and it's been having a great run so far. I really like the whole atmosphere from the music to the lighting. The draft list is impressive for a bar in Norfolk, usually always 21 beers on tap, and their planning on always having a beer on cask. The bottle list is nice as well, not sure how many are stocked but looks like a great selection. Everyone there is friendly and even under pressure they still take care of you. I would recommend to anyone looking for an alternative to Cogan's or Taphouse. I went almost everyday last week and each time was worth it! The Birch is a welcome addition to the area and promises to be the new craft beer spot for Hampton Roads.

galengueuze, Jan 19, 2011
Photo of KalH
4.63/5  rDev -1.5%

Can't tell you how exciting it was to finally get a craft beer bar in the Norfolk area of Virginia. Its something that has been long overdue, and in January, our patience was rewarded with The Birch.

Having frequented The Birch since its opening day, all I have to say are good things about this place. Its an inviting environment with an incredible selection of craft beer on tap and best of all - great owners. The duo who run The Birch are some of the best people I've ever met and have continually been nothing but great to the guests who have come in. Its refreshing to see owners that take pride in their establishment and you can tell that they really put their heart and soul into being the best.

Their knowledge, along with their staffs, is exceptional and you'll find an ever growing variety of new selections both on-tap and in the bottle. You'll find that rare beers make there way on-tap pretty often and a cask of something worth trying. There is really something for everyone here whether your a craft beer enthusiast or new to the world of beer. The prices are a bit high though.

Highly recommend this place if you are ever in the Norfolk area and make sure you get a growler filled while you're there!

KalH, Jul 18, 2011
Photo of electricbrewer
4.6/5  rDev -2.1%

Just opened in the Norfolk/Ghent area. I walked by this place a many of times wondering...what is it? Now I know, this place is the best beer bar in Norfolk... and they have only been open a short time. Other places in the Hampton Roads area struggle to have a beer list so diverse as this one.

I was very impressed by the assortment of styles. This place has a beer for every style, and not just any beer, but exceptional examples of the style. I mean Mikkellar on tap!?!?!? I don't think the other places in town even know who Mikkellar is and the fine beers they make.

Look out for this place, it's going to be the beer place to be in Hampton Roads.

I can't wait to go back... and it's adjacent to tortilla west. 0.75 cent tacos monday and teusday nights.... awesome beer selection next door! Oh man, I'm getting thirsty....

electricbrewer, Jan 05, 2011
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The Birch in Norfolk, VA
100 out of 100 based on 34 ratings.