I’ve been around the pub trivia “block,” I guess you could say! Me and my trivia team Miskatonic University Fighting Cephalopods (look for us on Facebook/Twitter if you dare) – have been engaging in various trivia battles since 2009, though we didn’t “really” get started until 2012!
Here are a few “reviews” of some of the trivia spots in which myself and my team have played the most frequently as of late. The two trivia leagues in which we have played include Sporcle Live and My Trivia Live, so that will be noted in each review. NOTE: If you are looking for reviews on food, you might want to check out a web site called “Yelp.” If you are looking for craft beer reviews, check out “Beer Advocate.” I may comment on drinks/drink specials, but I ain’t commenting on food here! I’ll be commenting primarily on the pub trivia scene in each respective spot. All that said, let’s start off with…
The “Corner Brewery,” Ypsilanti, MI (Sporcle Live)
This is pretty much my “whole gang” these days…they are a smart- and sassy bunch! Here we all are at “Corner” in February, 2016. They constantly test my brain – and my patience. If you think you really know an answer, better be prepared to prove it with these guys!
This is the place that my team has played the most, and the place we “officially” started playing in February, 2012. It’s definitely a team favorite, and has blossomed into a very, very competitive – and popular – trivia spot over the years! Anyone who is serious about playing here should – ideally – be here at least an hour early (games start at 7 p.m.). Tables do tend to fill up quickly – and some of them fill up with lots and lots of players! Though it used to be common for teams to push tables together to accommodate huge groups, that does not seem to happen anymore (and I am not sure why). Now players just squeeze in around the individual tables.
This is a craft beer joint, so don’t expect to be able to grab a Miller or anything else that isn’t made on the premises! There is a full food menu, and various beers/ciders on tap as well as wine.
This is always an interesting spot to play because there never seems to be one “dominant” team, though there are quite a few teams that dominate the top spots in the standings (including mine). This means essentially any “top” team has a shot at winning the “venue tournament,” which is held at the end of the season to determine which team goes to the regional tournament for cash prizes. My team has won quite a few tournament spots while playing here – and we hope to win a tournament spot at the end of this season!
The Wurst Bar – Ypsilanti, MI (My Trivia Live)
One of my teammates declined to participate in this group photo at The Wurst Bar because he had dental work earlier that day. Here are the rest of us are at the skeeball machine near the entrance.
My trivia team played here for quite a few seasons beginning in February, 2016. I started things off here by playing just as a duo with a female friend, and though we did OK as a duo, we definitely improved our chances when we added other players to the mix! Once I got the whole team aboard (usually just four of us), we fairly easily dominated the standings each season. We qualified for several regional tournaments by playing here, and even won a first place prize in July, 2017! But not everyone on my team was keen on playing here…a couple of our players kind of tuned out of playing when we switched our games here. This place boasts one of the best Wednesday drink specials we’ve ever seen – via the “Whiskey Wednesday” deal. This means any drinks made with well whiskey are just $2! We recently stopped playing here, mainly because one of our players said he would have difficulty getting to games in inclement weather (he does not drive to trivia games). Since my husband and I said we weren’t going to be driving him to every game, we found a spot closer to home where he can walk to games (Corner Brewery). As of now, I’m not sure our team will ever return to playing here since they seem to like “Corner” so much (the trivia games are on the same night). But I never like to say never!
The Heidelberg – Ann Arbor, MI (Sporcle Live)
We always liked playing in the booth that had the horse in it. Then one day the horse light went out and we were sad!
We played here for at least a couple of seasons in 2016. As of this posting, this place no longer has a pub trivia scene! We played here as part of a “barhop” program, which meant if you played in enough trivia spots overall, you could get a free pass to the regional tournament. As you might gather from the name, this is a German joint – and if you want wiener schnitzel, rouladen, spaetzle, sausagebratenwursten (I just made that one up) or any other German grub, fuhgeddaboutit! This place was never a big draw for most players on my team, so most games were played by just my husband and I (sometimes just me). But we managed to do just well enough here to win enough prizes to cover almost ALL of our beer tabs! At $5 a pitcher for domestic brews, it was a pretty good deal! Trivia games were hosted in the basement, which always kind of reminded of the movie Inglourious Basterds, which had a pivotal scene that occurred in the basement of a tavern in German-occupied France. You were never unaware that you were in a basement at the Heidelberg! For one, there was almost always that tell-tale “dank” smell, which this place tried hard to cover up by cleaning with bleach. But the underlying smell was always there. On some summer nights it could get downright…sultry down there.
Despite the occasional sultry atmosphere at the Heidelberg – and the slight dank smell – this place still had its charm! It was kind of an intimate trivia scene, never too many teams (which is probably why it doesn’t offer trivia anymore). The prizes were pretty nice, though – $20 for first place – $10 for second. I still have a little bit of prize money from this place on a gift card!
Powell’s Pub – Ypsilanti, MI (My Trivia Live)
This place is definitely a “dive bar!” If that wood paneling could talk! I don’t even want to think about how much second-hand smoke it absorbed back in the the pre-2010 days when people could smoke with wild abandon in Michigan’s restaurants/bars. That’s how I learned by accident that hanging your coat above a dehumidifier will take out the smoke odors (there’s a hack for ya – you’re welcome). The carpeting at Powell’s was replaced last summer, which improved the smell in the room – but I shudder to think about how gross it must’ve been to remove all of that carpeting. Years worth of ground-down cigarette ashes, soaked in vomit, spilled drinks, grease stains. Trust me, I know a thing or two about disgusting carpet (hey…get your minds out of the gutter)…
Because of numerous “acts of dog,” the living room carpet in our house had to be removed when we moved there in 2010. God…it was SO gross (hence the mask)! I wound up spraining a finger from using a box cutter to cut the carpeting (I really should have sprung for the fancy carpet cutter at Home Depot, but I was a cheap ass so I used my Olfa box cutter from work). The same thing had to be done in the basement – and that carpet was MUCH more disgusting down there! My mom, who’d come over to help, brandished a big crow bar, looked at me and said, “Are we going to do this, or what?” I’ll never forget that! But how could you forget seeing your mom brandishing a crow bar and telling you to get to work?
Let’s just say Powell’s Pub is “serviceable!” Nothing is too pricey here, the full bar has a selection of craft and domestic beers. If you’re looking for a snooty, fancy-pants place to sip an artisan cocktail made with local spirits garnished with a handmade artisinal – locally made ice cube – or a fancy food menu with some kind of quinoakaleglutenfreedelight? Look elsewhere! It’s just regular bar food here (some say it’s best not to eat it, lol). Powell’s Pub’s trivia nights are frequented by quite a mixed bag of teams – some of them solo players just there for the “barhop” – and a few “teams,” too. My team will be playing here regularly this season to try to win a spot in the My Trivia Live semifinals/finals. We’ve never played here regularly before, but have played quite a lot of games here since 2016. This is one of those bars where everyone pretty much knows everyone else (for good or for bad). Once you’ve visited this place at least a couple of times, the bar staff will not only remember your name – but your favorite drink! Make sure to mind your manners when you’re here, and not just because of the occasional unruly patrons who get into arguments about sportsball! But also because of the bar staff – I’ve heard that if you complain too much about your beer being too warm – or what have you – the bar staff will find a way to make an example of you!
Original Gravity Brewing Company, Milan, MI (Sporcle Live)
Not the best lighting…my tablet takes crappy photos indoors in poor lighting! But here we are – our ragtag foursome that won a tournament spot in July, 2017 at “OG!”
This place is about a half hour from my home, so it’s pretty much a “spring/summer/fall” place. I don’t go out here in the winter. This is one of my favorite spots, mainly because of its “small town” vibe, and because I really like a couple of the seasonal beers. One of my favorite beers here is a cream ale, which has had a couple of different names – but it will always be “Conjugal Visit Cream Ale” to me! The city of Milan, MI has a penitentiary, so why not have at least a couple of prison themed names for beers at its local brewery? Lights out stout? Angry Warden IPA? Solitary Confinement ESB (extra special bitter)? This is a craft beer joint, so you can drink the beer they make on premises, or if beer isn’t your thing, sip on a Sprecher soda. I tried their cherry cola before, it’s actually quite tasty! I brought a team out to the very first game here in March, 2016, and there was a blizzard! That didn’t make for a very pleasant drive home – especially since the car I was driving at the time didn’t have a functioning blower for the heater (or defroster)! We’ve played here a few seasons, but we’ve only “seriously” tried qualifying in a tournament game twice. The first time was in July, 2017 when we won a spot to the regional tournament! We were a player down, and we used a “sub” from another team so we could have at least four players. The second time I tried qualifying here was in November, 2017 – but it wasn’t a very “serious” attempt. I was only able to summon one player (myself). I basically showed up just for fun! I wound up finishing in third that day.
Original Gravity is kind of an “informal” meeting place for people in town. Sometimes during special events, it really gets packed! Last summer, a group of cyclists descended upon the place, and wouldn’t you know, the A/C wasn’t really working fully up to snuff. That, and some of the bicyclists smelled a bit…ripe, as it were. It got a bit…sultry in there (sorry, I really like that word)! Thankfully, the A/C eventually kicked in, and I held up my arms and said aloud, “Thank the HVAC Gods!” I can be a tad dramatic sometimes! But it’s OK that I raised my arms – because I took a shower before going out there and used deodorant/antiperspirant! Raise your hands if you’re sure?
“Confident, confident, dry and secure! Raise your hands…raise your hands…if you’re sure!” These girls have no idea what REAL sweat is like, pffft…(blows raspberry).
There are a good number of regular teams who play here, but there have been only three different teams winning regional tournament spots here over five seasons. I like doing the solo games here because even though it’s a pretty competitive spot – it’s not “unwinnable.” I have managed to win plenty of prizes here by myself! Just as a rule, I tend to not play solo at trivia spots unless I know at least one team there – know the bar staff well – or know the trivia host. That’s not to say I haven’t had some unpleasant experiences while trying to do a solo game, but that’s another matter! Sometimes people are just…jerks. And even more so if they’re too drunk, but I digress! Original Gravity is just competitive enough to make me interested – but not so competitive that I wouldn’t even bother. For the first time ever, I managed a first-place solo sweep in September, 2017! I don’t think it’s too likely I will eye this as a spot to qualify for tournaments in the near future, but when the weather warms up, chances are good that I will come out here to test my trivia mettle again. When I can get my husband to come out, we like taking a little walk around town before games – and looking for juggalos! 🙂