Ben and his wife took really good care of me here, and the free samples were flying left and right. The place was full, but the crowd was very mellow for a Saturday night, with jazz playing in the background, and everyone gathered around the Big Board. Draft selection was terrific, but the bottle selection was amazing - and what’s on the card is the tip of the iceberg. Not bad for what looks like an old gas station. One change I’d make is that I’d add a complete cellar inventory. Great place.
Stopped by on my last night in town, fully expecting to be disappointed - I mean it can’t possibly be as good as the hype, right? Well, it is. This is probably the best beer bar I have been to. Ambiance is spartan but utilitarian; this place is about drinking good beer. Service is great, and the staff really know their stuff. Tap list is phenomenal, like nothing I have seen outside of Belgium. Bottle list is pretty impressive as well, and apparently what they show is much less than what they actually have in the back. I can’t wait for my next trip out East so that I can stop back in.
Braudog (893) Yorktown, Virginia | May 21, 2011| Updated July 25, 2015
May 2011 - Finally got a chance to drop in on the Birch for the first time since returning to Hampton Roads. One word: WOW. The young owners here have managed to put together a cozy little place in a ’seasoned’ neighborhood right outside the commercial dockyards of Norfolk that has an AMAZING rotating lineup of draft beers, and an equally potent fridge full of bottles. All you have to do is check out the "available at this location" list to see that somehow the Birch pulls down some of the most amazingly rare beers, if extremely tilted toward imports. Follow this place on Facebook to watch the amazing rotation. Food certainly isn’t a priority here, but they also offer a solid choice of cheese for a nice nosh to go with the beer. Definitely among the top 3-4 most amazing beer bars I’ve ever visited ... and it’s brand new. This place is destined for greatness.
This place looks like a garage. This place probably was a garage but I’m a big fan of bars in random spaces so plus there. Parking’s not exactly plentiful on the street, but we went on an off time and were able to find a spot. The day we went the tap list was full of European taps you rarely see, They had beers available in a variety of pours which was awesome. Definitely a destination beer place.
Drake (823) Milwaukee, Wisconsin | July 15, 2011| Updated May 6, 2015
VERY glad I stopped here. Located in a hybrid industrial/residential, the building in which the Birch is located is an old garage. Dimly lit, with several tables and a very long bar. The tap and bottle lists are simply intimidating. Nothing of low quality here. Definite emphasis on European beers, but there are others also. The prices are a bit on the high side... a night of drinking here could hurt the wallet, but it’s really not bad compared to the quality of beer. Some of the bottle prices are excellent for a beer bar. Simple and well priced food menu... my sourdough grilled cheese was tasty. The owner was working the bar, and he was very friendly. He will sell bottles to go, and they fill growlers of a few of their beers. This is a world class place, and its shocking they’ve only been open 6 months.
So I go back 16 months after my last visit and the owner remembers my name and where I’m from. Now that’s pretty amazing. I’d raise the service score, but it’s already a 10. so...
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.
I had three days off and no plans, so the fiance and I decided to pick a place and go. There was recently a thread on ratebeer claiming a lot of places get spam high reviews and mentioned The Birch. I was skeptical at first too. So I tried it out for myself! The location is very odd, 50 yards from an industrial loading dock and in a sort of low-income neighborhood. Next door seems to be a popular Mexican restaurant and bar. Parking along the street seemed to be enforced by resident permit, but around the corner closer to the dock entrance there is unlimited parking after 6PM I think. The inside is modest, homey, tavern-like, definitely a locals’ bar with a lot of regulars, dark lighting, chalk board tap list. 20 Taps about with a lot of variety and nearly everything being odd or difficult to find. When I was there it was "43 Hours of Dark" where everything on tap was relatively dark including Nogne O DH2 on tap, which I’ve never seen before. Also a lot of one-offs from B. United’s Zymatore series, some of which were very good. The staff are pretty much the bar owners, who chatted with us and made us feel at home. After ticking the tap list, I was asking about some bottles in their cellar that were on display. Unfortunately, those bottles are for display only and I guess are the owners’ own private cellar. A bit of a tease but okay. But, the bottle I asked out was suddenly popped and sitting in front of me compliments of the house. What!? I ran to the car to bring some special beer to share as well. Really neat environment. Went back the next day to try the cheese plates and new things on the tap list. Likewise, we got to split an odd bottle from the cellar that the owners picked out for us. Awesome!
PROS: homey environment, rapid keg rotation, rarities/one-offs, amazing staff, crazy licensing here to allow bottles to go/bottles to bring in/growlers to go, informal bottle share ability
CONS: bizarre location, fairly pricey, cellar is not for sale via bottle list, minimal food/snack options though the cheese/olive/sausage plate is nice for palate cleansing.
So a must go location for any beer hunter/nerd and remember to eat beforehand and bring some special beers to share with the staff.
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.
Yes it is that good. Located in unassuming space in corner of Norfolk. Fairly busy beer bar. You will see guests from all strata of society, bikers, beer geeks, lawyers etc. Bar is under guidance of beer enthusiast couple. I had only pleasure meeting Mailia. Service was quick, professional and knowledgeable. Beer was just excellent, not just good -excellent. Tap is only 20+ but you won’t find anything that is less than ordinary. Hidden gem!
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!