Taps: 22 / Bottles: 100
Cask: Y / Beer-to-Go: Y
Ratings: 33 | Reviews: 22 | Display Reviews Only:
3.98/5 rDev -15.3%
vibe: 3.75 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 2.5 | $$$
The Birch is a bit of a dive, and for that reason it will never have mass appeal, but it's a great place to expand your beer horizons.
Off the beaten path, this place is never over-crowded, yet word of mouth and reputation have guaranteed that it's never empty. The wooden decor and bar are a throwback, almost reminding me of a saloon in the old western movies. Also true to the old saloon, it's dimly lit and a little grungy.
The selection of beers on tap is excellent (I think about 20), and they're constantly being rotated -- it's not just American microbrews, but also some very unusual foreign styles. If trying new and diverse on-tap beers appeals to you, you've come to the right place. The bottle selection is good, but I've certainly seen better (and they seem to have trouble keeping them all in stock).
The waitstaff are friendly and decently knowledgeable, although I'd recommend talking with the owner if you have specific or detailed questions. Service is hit-or-miss -- sometimes I've been well looked after, but other times a well-meaning but overworked bartender/server can take 30 minutes to "make the rounds" among the customers (a long time to wait when your glass runs dry or when you're ready to pay and leave).
I have been disappointed in the food: it's a mix of average bar-food and tiny cheese plates, and it's really overpriced for the amount you get (but this is a BEER bar; nobody comes here for the food).
The price for the beer vs the amount you get is also high -- it's a great place to come and try new stuff on tap, to be sure, but $5+ for an 8-ounce "half pour" ($8-10 for the full pour) is pretty steep by any standard. I'd put The Birch in the "special occasion" category, for when I want to meet a friend to taste something new and unique.
11-14-2013 11:17:17 | More by TappaKeggaBrew
4.19/5 rDev -10.9%
vibe: 3.75 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | $$
Really great spot. They have some amazing exclusives on draft, and they obviously have ridiculous connections. The ambiance is great, and I wish I lived around here so I could hang out here more often.
The staff was a little awkward. When we asked why they served so much Belgian/German beer - which is fine!!!! We just wanted to know their inspiration - they said ’to be different’. Interesting, because we all know the first generation of US craft beer bars were heavily Belgian/German. Is this the first ’retro’ craft beer bar? (Or was I too dense/drunk to take a joke? Probably.) I also felt a familiar vibe from the management - a vibe I’ve experienced before - when someone has a bar they obviously know is good, but competition in the area is so limited they become a little ostentatious. Meh. They were so damn nice I honestly didn’t care.
Go here. It’s a special place.
11-24-2013 23:12:29 | More by Fluffheady
4.31/5 rDev -8.3%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | $$$
Norfolk doesn't deserve The Birch. It's a bar for the sake of beer and they don't take that lightly. The selection is crazy and the people are super friendly/helpful/attentive. The food is pricey nuts and cheese and not much else, but then you're not going here for the food. Especially great that it's next door to Tortilla West so that after you're done giving your wallet a work out with premium beer you can go and give it a break with some Tecate while eating insane nachos.
01-17-2013 07:03:02 | More by abenf
4.34/5 rDev -7.7%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.75 | food: 2.5 | $$$
Above average atmosphere, product selection, and service make this a Class A establishment. Locating this beer bar in out of the way West Ghent in Norfolk Virginia was a great decision; a unique location for a unique bar. The owners are very knowledgable and ready to share their insights and recommendations about the well rounded selections.
03-16-2013 12:52:53 | More by ThomWade
4.36/5 rDev -7.2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | $$$
I'm trying to temper my review so I don't make this sound like beer-ven on earth, but damn what a cool spot. I'll start w/ the cons - can get crowded quickly due to rising popularity and smallness, and a few beers are gonna set you back. However, those are trivial complaints. If you're from out of town and visiting hit this spot for the basics, they gave a large selection of taps and bottles and there will be diamonds in the rough for most BA'ers. Now what seperates this beer bars from others in the area that make it a must-go for locals and tourists alike? First the serivce - the servers walk around the place rather than maintain a few table so I had 3 servers BS w/ me (knowledgeable and friendly) and never was left w/ an empty glass. Second, the vibe - no TVs or shitty music here; they have laid back music in the background w/ soft lighting and everyone is close so it's a communal, tightknit effect that doesn't create a zombie atmosphere (just go to a beer bar where everyone watches sports or can't hear b/c of music). Also, unlike other beer bars around here, this place has two things going for it that make it top notch to me. They keep their selection up-to-date as possible so much that I saw a server erase the draft list (on chalk board) and write a new one - that never happens at the Tap Houses or Bier Garden. And unlike those places that will serve wine or crap beer to cater to all comers (and the BG seems to get a lot of people who order generic German beer (at least what I've seen)), this was truly a beer community. Men, women, young, old - were all trying really good and diverse beers from approriate glassware (another +). Never seen that in other beer bars around here. In conclusion, check this place out (and next time I go I'll try a cheese board).
03-28-2011 17:13:16 | More by clayrock81
4.4/5 rDev -6.4%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 4 | $$
The Birch is by far the best beer bar in Hampton Roads and has quickly shown itself to be a world-class establishment offering amazing beers with top-notch service in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere.
There is no bad beer at The Birch. The expansive list of drafts and bottles changes regularly and features nothing but the absolute best beer available to the area. It's a heaven for beer geeks looking for something they've never had before, but it's also a great place for the more inexperienced beer drinker to try something new and to get expert suggestions from the great staff. While some previous reviews have mentioned the lack of more accessibly priced beers, I'm happy to report that The Birch menu now features a $3 can of a rotating "Hipster Beer" and at least five different $5 American drafts. On Fridays they also offer a beer and cheese tasting menu of three pours and three cheeses for $15. It's a great value, and a fun way to try new things. Yes, the more esoteric and rare beers are going to be more expensive, but even those prices hardly seem unreasonable given the quality of the selection. Ben and Malia work hard to ensure that they carry only the best beers. If it's at The Birch, it's going to be terrific. I never feel like I am being taken advantage of when I get to order from such a well-cultivated list.
The food menu is limited, but what The Birch offers is truly fantastic. The cheese boards are generous and offer high-quality and unique products designed to pair well with the beers. There is a nifty guide on the back of the menu to help you choose cheeses that will best complement your beer selection, but don't hesitate to ask for advice. The staff is incredibly knowledgable and will help set you up with the perfect board. And don't underestimate the goodness of a grilled cheese made from great ingredients! These things are delicious! The menu has been slowly expanding as well to include things like "hop-inspired" grilled cheeses and special creations made to pair with featured beers. The focus of The Birch is clearly on its beer, and you'll probably want to go somewhere else if you're looking for a large dinner menu. Still, the cheese boards and grilled cheeses make for tasty treats that just really hit the spot when matched with these lovely beers.
The real allure of The Birch though is in the friendly, attentive and knowledgable staff. Malia knows her beers inside and out. Describe what you're interested in and she'll bring you the perfect beer. "Mama Birch" is great fun. She keeps busy waiting tables, but she seems to remember everyone's names and she'll find time to ask you about your family or a vacation you might have mentioned. Charlotte is a newer addition, but she has proven herself to be both knowledgable and hilarious. My best advice is to keep to the tables where you'll have less of a chance of encountering the owner. That's a guaranteed bad time. He can be intolerably rude or if you're lucky, he'll just ignore you and your order. If you can navigate your way around him and let the ladies help you, you'll love The Birch.
Oh, and the atmosphere: It's completely relaxed with none of the meat-market scene you might find somewhere else. There are also no TVs which, frankly, I appreciate because it's more conducive to conversation. The place is a magnet for beer geeks, and I often find myself in a friendly chat with my bar mates. It's not unusual to find folks who are willing to share a bottle with you or even to see people generously offering tastes from something in their cellar collection. If you like beer, then you are going to love The Birch.
04-30-2013 21:52:23 | More by beerchicky
4.6/5 rDev -2.1%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 3.5 | $$
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....
01-05-2011 20:43:38 | More by electricbrewer
The Birch in Norfolk, VA
100 out of 100 based on 33 ratings.