Visited in February 2017. Very nice place in the corner of industrial area. Good beer selection on tap and also in bottles. Always nice to see Sinebrychoff Porter Vintage 2009 in this corner of the world.
You’ll probably think you’re in the wrong place as you’re driving in as it seems like it’s a semi-deserted industrial area at first. Cool little room that’s very nicely decorated. Service was unbelievably friendly and helpful. Beer selection isn’t the biggest you will ever see but it’s large enough to have something for everyone and you can tell it’s very carefully curated. Grilled cheese sandwiches are delicious and they have a nice variety of snacks. Somewhat reminiscent of the Tired Hands cafe in terms of selection on that front. Prices were fine. Definitely one of the better beer bars you’ll see. I’ll never drive past Norfolk without stopping there.
Dinnerduring the week. Somewhat small place but plenty of roon at the same tome. Beer selection was legit. Featured alot of itailian beers which was cool. Grilled cheese and charcutery dominate food menu, mine was tasty. Service was decent. Only complaint is beer is a tad pricy... But fuck it, u onlupy live once.
I had the opportunity to visit on 5/28/2015. I was going to be in DC and decided why not go visit Dogfish Head in DE and The Birch in Norfolk. I have to admit it didn’t look like a top 50 beer bar at first but once you visit I think you will change your mind. I went in the evening which turned out to be quiet Thursday night. Sat at the bar, large L shaped bar with over 20+ seats. The selection of drafts were on the chalkboard to my left, plus meads and ciders in the board in front of me plus some speciality pours from some of their rare bottles. The name, type, location, ABC, price for glass and growlers. Great selection of about 30 taps with several locals, one offs, imports, and a few rarities. You could get a half or full pour of anything as well as growlers of pretty much anything including meads and ciders. Poured in proper glassware and right temperature. Bar laid out nicely to sit at tables if you prefer or even outside. Great bar atmosphere where there is music playing but you could carry on a conversation with friends or the bartenders. The bottle selection of over 200 was a great variety of locals, US and imports. All bottles you can take away at a 20% discount per bottle. The list was quite current but was told they may be out of a few as they were printing an updated list. The food was great as they specialize in various cheeses some more rare along with various charcuterie plates and speciality grill cheeses sandwiches. The bartender was extremely knowledge of all beers on the board and the bottles as well as in general. He could describe and recommend based on what you liked. Lastly, the prices were very reasonable for both drafts and bottles and the location was there in the downtown area reachable with less than a 10 min cab ride from just about anywhere around downtown. Overall, was more than pleasantly surprised as it lived up to its RB rating. Would highly recommend a visit if you are close to the Norfolk area. Great beer destination. Cheers!
Visited 05/05/15. I’m sure some people look at Ratebeer’s Top Places list, see The Birch, and question whether a world class beer bar actually exists in Norfolk. I know that I was a bit skeptical before my visit. Luckily, I was thrilled to find out that The Birch’s reputation isn’t over-inflated. It’s a wonderful bar that deserves mention as one of the best in the world. My experience during a quiet Tuesday evening session was pretty flawless. I sat at the bar and received enthusiastic service. The staff here know their beer and love to talk about it. The ambiance was quiet but warm. The draft selection was excellent. The 25 taps showcased some local rarities (Hardywood and Alewerks) alongside a strong selection of international stuff. The amount of draft beer from Italy was particularly interesting. I tried pours from del Ducato, Birrificio Italiano, and Grado Plato. The availability of fresh tipopils was as surprising as it was welcomed. There were perhaps 200 quality bottles available too. Prices were totally reasonable. Overall, this place is worth a long detour. Highly recommended.
Nice little craft bar in a weird area of Norfolk to find a craft beer bar with some nice restaurants around it. Went for Zwanze Day 2014 and have to say that the staff handled a very crowded bar with aplomb. It was an outstanding experience. If it was a slow day, I could see spending a LOT of time and money in The Birch. Owner was mingling with the crowd, locals were super friendly, and beer list was stupendous. Excellent experience and every chance I get to come back here I will be back!
If you are looking for unusual styles of beer to experience, this is your place. Their rotating selection of on-tap beers from around the world is sure to include several beers and maybe a couple of styles you’ve never heard of. They also have a really good bottle list (although it’s not uncommon for them to be out of the ones I’ve asked for).
The food is a mix of over-priced bar food and very good gourmet offerings that are highly overpriced (for the tiny amount you get), with an emphasis in the cheese department. But let’s be honest: You’re coming here for the beer, not the food!
Service is hit-or-miss; I’ve had excellent service on some occasions, and lousy on others -- the typical service is slow, but friendly, from an over-worked but well-meaning bartender/server.
Whether you’ll like the ambiance depends on your taste: It’s a hole in the wall, dark and dingy inside, and the clientele is a mix of college students & professors, sailors/soldiers from nearby military bases, and pretentious hipsters.
As far as the value... As I mentioned before, the food is really overpriced. The beer is also quite expensive ($6 for a 6-8 ounce "half-pour" is typical), but you’re paying for the opportunity to taste things you can’t find anywhere else, or at least not any bar in Norfolk. So if expanding your horizons is your goal, it’s a great place; if you just want to have a good beer, there are much better options in town.