East Bay trivial pursuits for every geek from Sunday through Thursday, from the Albatross to the New Parkway.
As any connoisseur of miscellaneous facts knows, it can be difficult to find a forum in which to dazzle friends and strangers with your impressive knowledge of West Coast rap, the original Saturday Night Live cast, and all the major players in the Spanish-American War. Knowing that M&M stands for Mars and Murrie might be fascinating, but it’s unlikely you’ll find a way to slip it into conversations without suffering awkward pauses and strange looks. Fortunately there is a place where such knowledge is coveted, celebrated, and rewarded with beer and hot wings.
We’re talking about bar trivia, a contest that justifies the hours (or years) spent watching Behind the Music and E! True Hollywood Story, gleeful late-night sessions deep inside a Wikipedia rabbit hole, or an adolescence spent at home playing Trivial Pursuit. And whether you call yourself nerd, geek, dweeb, or know-it-all, there is an East Bay bar trivia option for you. Here is a selection of quizzes, one for almost every night of the week, so that Sunday through Thursday you can vie for that elusive prize that’s more meaningful than a $25 gift certificate or pitcher of fine beer: bragging rights.
8:30 p.m. (sign up by 8:15 p.m.), max five players per team.
The Albatross claims to be Berkeley’s oldest pub, and its Brainstormer Trivia Pub Quiz is a longstanding and beloved tradition with diehard fans. This pub quiz offers an engaging host and cutthroat competition in a game that includes general knowledge, a weekly theme, and picture, and music rounds. Compete for drink tokens with your team or abandon them altogether and compete for a special individual prize and keep all the spoils for yourself. Either way, it’s a great time.
1822 San Pablo Ave., Berkeley, 510-843-2473, www.AlbatrossPub.com.
7 p.m., max six players per team.
The Alley is known primarily as a piano bar, featuring, until his death in 2017, local legend Rod Dibble on keys. But on Monday nights, the bar and restaurant is a rollicking spot for friendly competition and good-natured joshing. Players compete over five rounds for prizes that include toys and games, movie tickets, and gift certificates for food and drinks at the bar. Come for the trivia and stay for the karaoke — after the game concludes, a guitarist takes the stage with a song book ready to accompany any singer willing to give it a try.
3325 Grand Ave., Oakland, 510-444-8505, TheAlleyOakland.com.
Ben & Nick’s Bar & Grill
8:30 p.m., max 8 players per team.
Deep in the heart of Rockridge, Ben & Nick’s transforms every Tuesday night from a cheerful neighborhood pub into a battlefield where the bodies of the vanquished lay in heaps among overturned pint glasses and tiny pencils. OK, we’re being hyperbolic, but the competition at this weekly trivia spot does get intense. Teams compete over two rounds with pitchers of beer as the coveted prize — and if you’ve ever taken a gander at the beer boards at Ben & Nick’s, you’ll know that’s a prize worth seeking.
5612 College Ave., Oakland, 510-923-0327, BenAndNicks.com.
Seawolf Public House
Starting between 7 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., no maximum number of players on teams.
Seawolf calls itself Oakland’s newest oldest pub, and that’s because it’s a fairly new addition to the bar scene, opening in 2017, and because it’s housed on the ground floor of an 1882 Victorian in Jack London Square. (Bit of trivia: The Sea-Wolf was one of London’s novels published in 1904 to wide acclaim.) Teams compete over seven rounds for pitchers of beer and swag from a different featured brewery. Questions cover a wide variety of topics, from music to sports to history. And knowing a little bit of Oakland lore doesn’t hurt.
350 Fourth St., Oakland, 510-891-1660, Seawolf.pub.
The New Parkway Theater
7:30, max six players per team (those teams with fewer than three are encouraged to join with others).
The New Parkway does movies, events, food, and even community outreach … but did you know The New Parkway also does trivia? Every Thursday on the mezzanine, teams are invited to three rounds of general knowledge trivia. Questions tend to be deductive in nature, meaning that if a team doesn’t know the answer, it can work together to arrive at an educated guess. And even though it’s a movie theater, questions are seldom centered on films, so if you haven’t seen anything since Saving Private Ryan, don’t worry. First-, second-, and third-place winners compete for pitchers of beer, and, naturally, movie tokens.
474 24th St., Oakland, 510-338-3228, TheNewParkway.com.