When we arrive at Forager Brewing Company, Trivia Night is well underway. The Kutzky Market room is filled with small groups bellied up to tables, pens and answer sheets ready. The wait staff is bustling back and forth with drinks and food. A second room has opened up to handle the overage of trivia enthusiasts waiting to find a seat. The air is awaft with anticipation as our trivia master hurries between rooms announcing each question.

“What is a monophobe fear?” he asks. I smile at my teammates and grab the pen. I know the answer to this one. 

TRIVIA MAFIA

The idea of hosting a trivia night at brew pubs and bars began in 2006 in Minneapolis. It originally took place on Sunday nights, and the event enticed so many participants that it grew into the largest bar trivia company in the Midwest. 

Trivia Mafia uses the basic essentials for play: pen, paper, wits. No touchscreens are used. Cell phones are strictly forbidden. Anyone caught glancing at Google on their phone is immediately disqualified. Even the answer sheets boldly state that participants should, “Use your noodle, not your Google.” 

Not all trivia nights are using the company Trivia Mafia, however. Some places venture out on their own, developing their own questions, challenges and answer sheets.

So what does it take to win at trivia? Tamara Berg, who finished in first place, says, “The questions were eclectic and covered a lot of ground. It helped that we were a group of women with diverse interests and professions.”

(NOT A) TRIVIAL MATTER

At Grand Rounds Brew Pub, we enjoy several different trivia challenges. We begin with the visual round where 10 small photos depicting different scenes from movies and TV shows are presented. Our job is to fill in what the image represents. 

After that, three rounds of five trivia questions are asked. The trivia master then collects the sheets and “grades” them. Once sheets are returned, we embark upon three more rounds of questions. 

Other interesting game challenges include the “sound round,” where brief snippets of music are played. The goal is to name the song and the artist. There is also a “lightning round,” where we are asked to rate our answer based on our confidence in its correctness for extra points. 

Our trivia master announces that winners will receive prizes including gift cards and growlers. “We’re not just playing for fun-zees,” he says. In the end, it comes down to a tie for first place between two teams, which is broken by a quick game of Rock, Paper, Scissors. 

TRIVIAL PURSUIT

Trivia Mafia night at Crooked Pint is hosted by Deb Cannon, and the questions are serious brain-benders. In the lightning round, for example, we are given the name of a state, and we have to write a surrounding state with a name as close to the beginning of the alphabet as possible. 

The competition for first place and prizes is fierce. One of the teams in attendance has recently competed in the Trivia Mafia Tournament of Champions. “It’s hard tonight, but it is always good to have challenging ways to entertain yourself,” my friend Mary tells me. 

Deb, our trivia master, asks another question. “Name the state closest to the beginning of the alphabet that touches Nevada.”

Our team verbally runs through the surrounding states: “Idaho, California, Utah, Oregon,” and then I see the knowing smile on one of my teammate’s face. “It’s Arizona!” We are all quickly learning to love this game.

WHERE TO FIND TRIVIA NIGHTS IN ROCHESTER

The Tap House: Sunday at 7 p.m.

Forager Brewery: Monday at 7 p.m.

Grand Rounds Brewpub: Tuesday at 7 p.m.

LTS Brewing Company: Tuesday at 7 p.m.

Crooked Pint Ale House: Wednesday at 7 p.m.

Kim Zabel is a writer and photographer. She also works with cancer survivors as a Livestrong instructor at the Rochester Area Family Y. 

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