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Taps: 22 / Bottles: 100
Cask: Y / Beer-to-Go: Y
$$$ - a bit pricey
[ Bar, Eatery ]
1231 W Olney Rd
phone: (757) 962-5400
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Reviews by DoctorB2B:
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | $$$
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.
02-14-2011 18:40:29 |
More by DoctorB2B
More User Reviews:
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | 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. Ben and Malia, the owners, know their beers inside and out. Describe what you're interested in and they'll bring you the perfect beer. I'm in the habit of often just asking them to choose beers for me based on what they think are the "must-tries" on the menu and their knowledge of what styles I prefer. I've yet to be disappointed. "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. In a recent trip, my friend and I were helped by the barback who astounded us with her knowledge, on-point suggestions, and ability to answer questions. We let her choose the cheeses for our board that night too, and darn if they weren't the most delicious things we could have had with our beers. You know that you are in a serious beer bar when even the woman washing glasses can offer detailed explanations of beer styles and engage in easy conversation about a wide variety of brews. You'll really have your best visits to The Birch when you can just let the staff guide you.
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
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
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | $$$
Norfolk doesn't deserve The Birch. It's a bar for the sake of beer and they don't take that lightly. The selection is crazy and the people are super friendly/helpful/attentive. The food is pricey nuts and cheese and not much else, but then you're not going here for the food. Especially great that it's next door to Tortilla West so that after you're done giving your wallet a work out with premium beer you can go and give it a break with some Tecate while eating insane nachos.
01-17-2013 07:03:02 |
More by abenf
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 3.5 | $$$
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.
10-08-2012 22:39:06 |
More by porknwhiskey
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 2.5 | $$$
Off the beaten path, this place is never over-crowded, yet word of mouth and reputation have guaranteed that it's never empty. The wooden decor and bar are a throwback, almost reminding me of a saloon in the old western movies.
The selection of beers on tap is excellent (I think about 20), and constantly being rotated - it's not just American microbrews, but even some very unusual foreign styles. If trying new and diverse on-tap beers appeals to you, you've come to the right place. The bottle selection is good, but I've certainly seen better.
The waitstaff are friendly and decently knowledgable, although I'd recommend talking with the owner if you have specific or detailed questions.
I was a bit disappointed in the food - average bar-food at best, and really overpriced for the amount you get.
The price for the beer vs the amount you get is also high - it's a great place to come and try new stuff on tap, to be sure, but $5 for an 8-ounce "half pint" seems pretty steep to me.
07-16-2012 17:53:40 |
More by TappaKeggaBrew
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | $$$
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.
06-07-2012 17:40:54 |
More by Hanzo
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | $$$
Stopped in a few weeks ago but the visit is still etched into my mind. This is easily one of the coolest bars I've ever visited.
The atmosphere was great. No tv's blaring out sporting events (which normally I'd love) or loud music. Overall it was quiet and inviting, the decor inside was perfect. I felt like I'd be comfortable hanging out there for a while.
Service was fantastic. The guy working the bar (I think the owner) was quick and obviously knew his stuff and was ready to offer recommendations.
The selection is world class. I don't know of any other establishment with that many beers available. It's also the first bar I've ever seen without a typical swill tap (pbr, bud light, etc.) to help pay the bills. The only knock I can find is it's lacking a little as far as session beers. Most everything's high ABV, which makes having more than 1 or 2 risky if you've got to drive.
I didn't try any food, but the menu's pretty small. Grilled cheese sandwiches, soft pretzels, or cheese boards. They've got quite the selection of gourmet if you're into that kind o thing.
For value it is a little pricey. I don't think I saw any bottles or drafts for less than $5, and most were more than that. But in the end it's all worth it.
Overall, like I said at the top this is one of the coolest bars I've ever visited, period. I loved the atmosphere and the selection is insane. I do wish they'd get some more low gravity stuff and expand the kitchen. Then again, if it's not broken, don't fix it, right?
Bottom line, if you're in the Hampton Roads area you need to find your way over and check this place out.
01-02-2012 02:18:26 |
More by FenwaySquid
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4 | $$$
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.
09-30-2011 22:38:09 |
More by Anyportinastorm
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5 | $$
I was in the Norfolk area this past winter for a course. I spent a couple nights at the Birch and I was not disappointed in the least. Having lived in Belgium for 2 years now (the owner was utterly jealous), I am completely in love with gueuze and some beers that are harder to find in the States (for a decent price anyways)...this place had many of them. Friendly, knowledgable staff...great atmosphere (very relaxed...older crowd...didn't have to yell to speak to anyone you are with)...and SUPERB rotating beer list. Now that I'm actually moving to the Norfolk area in a few months, I will be a very frequent customer.
07-29-2011 21:59:29 |
More by LambicKing
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The Birch in Norfolk, VA