Here are my 10 Reasons to go to The Birch:
1) It makes you a little bit cooler. We are the farthest from Ghent hipsters you can get- my husband and I are 30-somethings who live in Isle of Wight County with our four kids. But it gives us a chance to pretend we have piercings and a trendy apartment, and perhaps ride our bikes to work and eat more kale. It makes me want to Instagram my beers (see photo).
2) For the beer, of course. There are a lot of good places around Norfolk to get craft beer, but this place has the ultimate selection for one looking to broaden one’s palate with international beers. Did you know Finland made some interesting beer?
3) There’s free wi-fi, so you don’t have to use your data plan when you check in beers on the Untappd beer tracking app, and the bartenders are super-knowledgeable about what they’re serving.
4) You’ll find 15 or 20 draft beers you won’t find anywhere else locally… and hundreds more by the bottle. During their “43 Hours Of” festivals, the entire tap lineup goes to a theme- the next one is “43 Hours of Dark,” which starts January 13.
5) They do short pours for those looking to sample. You can’t go to a place like this and try just one beer- it’s like a candy store for grown-ups.
6) It’s located next to the Chelsea Bakehouse, which has great ham and cheese croissants if you’re hungry, and which will deliver you an amazing pizza while you sit at the bar.
7) But you don’t really need to do that… because the Birch specializes in charcuterie (or as I call it, delicious cured meats) and gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches. Yes, gourmet grilled cheese. The popcorn and trail mix are also incredible. (I am aware these are two bar foods for which we do not normally have high standards, but trust me. Incredible. And now I’m hungry.)
8) Forget bourbon barrels- if you ever wanted to try beer aged in a gin, champagne, or chili mead barrel, this would be where you find it.
9) The individual who writes the beer list on the chalkboard should win a handwriting award. It’s amazingly easy to figure out what’s on tap, from where, what it is, and whether or not it’s liable to make you tipsy. (There are some intimidating, high ABV, beers here, but also plenty of interesting ones that, at 2-3%, are super easy to drink.)
10) I can’t speak to the nightlife scene (again: four kids), but it’s just a fun place to go when you want to try something a little bit different in a place that’s a little different.