The Birch

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BA SCORE
100
world-class

26 Reviews
The BirchThe Birch
PLACE INFO

Type: Bar, Eatery

1231 W Olney Rd
Norfolk, Virginia, 23507-1314
United States

(757) 962-5400 | map
www.thebirchbar.com

Notes:
No notes at this time.

Added by DoctorB2B on 01-03-2011

PLACE STATS
Score:
100
Reviews:
26
Ratings:
43
Avg:
4.73
pDev:
5.07%
 
 
Taps:
22
Bottles/Cans:
100
Cask:
Y
Beer-to-Go:
Y
View: Place Reviews | Events
User Reviews
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Reviews: 26 | Ratings: 43
Reviews by porknwhiskey:
Photo of porknwhiskey
4.8/5  rDev +1.5%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 3.5

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.

 819 characters

More User Reviews:
Photo of avisong
4.95/5  rDev +4.7%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

Photo of GreesyFizeek
4.69/5  rDev -0.8%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.75 | food: 4.75

Photo of 71ADub
3.89/5  rDev -17.8%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3.75 | service: 3.75 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3

I usually go once or twice a year. Went last nite, and the summer beer rotation, while unique, was lacking in breadth. Only one stout on tap. What about the porters, Malia?

I thought I was going to score some major points with my buddies, as I happened to kick a pilsner keg with my first pint. We were all less than enthused with the draft board, so we were asking what they were going to put in rotation next. We were told that they were waiting for Malia to text them the selection. So we had a couple of beers, and after 2 hours, they still hadn't put up a new keg. We would have been willing to vote on it (exlcuding the sours, which they were saving for the 43 hour event coming up).

Overall, still the best beer bar in Tidewater. And if you ask, you can a little sample in a shot glass before you plunk down $10-15 on a pour - a plus.

 851 characters

Photo of oldn00b
4.91/5  rDev +3.8%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 5 | service: 4.75 | selection: 5 | food: 5

If someone is visiting the VB/Norfolk area this is my #1 craft beer recommendation. The list is usually up to date online so you can have a pretty good idea what's on tap before you show up.

Some grilled cheeses are available on site and pizzas can be had from next door. Sometimes they do food trucks on site as well.

The big draw, really, is the beer. They have mini festivals of their own for a week every few months with a different theme - dark beers, hoppy beers, sour beers etc. They pull out some true gems for those. It can get absolutely packed but they're very efficient in their service. Highly recommend checking out even if for one flight before moving on to somewhere else for dinner.

 709 characters

Photo of ccnorthwest
4.75/5  rDev +0.4%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4.75 | selection: 4.75 | food: 4.5

I loved the atmosphere and interior of the place. They have a great bakery next door that will deliver pizza to you while your drinking at The Birch. They have some sometype of member program there because their were quite a few bottles behind the counter in the fridge that were not for purchase like Cantillon and Three Floyds variations.

 340 characters

Photo of ShanePB
4.49/5  rDev -5.1%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.75

Photo of Boone757
4.61/5  rDev -2.5%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.75 | food: 4.25

Photo of chipmontero
4.65/5  rDev -1.7%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 4

Photo of Sonofalime
5/5  rDev +5.7%

Photo of LambicKing
4.75/5  rDev +0.4%

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.

 2,428 characters

Photo of John_Beeryman
5/5  rDev +5.7%

Photo of BoilerUpNavy
4.75/5  rDev +0.4%

Photo of Beer-A-Lot
5/5  rDev +5.7%

Photo of dollybil
5/5  rDev +5.7%

Photo of newcomer81
5/5  rDev +5.7%

Photo of Flowyn82
4.5/5  rDev -4.9%

Photo of Mantooth
4.9/5  rDev +3.6%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 5 | service: 4.75 | selection: 5

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.

 445 characters

Photo of RonJeezy
4/5  rDev -15.4%

Photo of EvilBambi
4.75/5  rDev +0.4%

Photo of bcp5296d
4.75/5  rDev +0.4%

Photo of seanchai
4.5/5  rDev -4.9%

Photo of ohhsnap
5/5  rDev +5.7%

Photo of Fluffheady
4.19/5  rDev -11.4%
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.

 895 characters

Photo of TappaKeggaBrew
3.98/5  rDev -15.9%
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.

 1,783 characters

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The Birch in Norfolk, VA
100 out of 100 based on 26 ratings.
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