Brains and Brews: Library and Taproom team up for trivia nights

(This article was published Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2019 by the South Whidbey Record newspaper)

By Wendy Leigh

A librarian walks into a bar …

South Whidbey Pub Trivia night at the Taproom on Whidbey Island.

It sounds like the beginning of a bad joke, but you can save the eye-rolling. A packed pub and lively librarian-led trivia night inside the Taproom at Bayview Corner will definitely eradicate any preconceived notion one may have about the cultivation and sharing of information.

The term “thirst for knowledge” takes on new meaning every second Wednesday at the Taproom as locals gather for some friendly competition involving nothing but brains and brews. Led by Freeland and Langley librarians Katrina Morse and Randy Barnes, it’s a classic trivia night with a slightly intellectual twist.

However, the wide-ranging topics and laidback pub atmosphere leave no room for intimidation. You won’t hear any “shushing” from these librarians, and food and drink are definitely allowed.

As the October theme of “cult classics” played out inside the Taproom, which occupies part of the former 1920s Cash Store at Bayview Corner, owners Tiffany and Damien Cortez fueled brains and loosened inhibitions with piled-up plates and frosty mugs.

Trivia nights demand the standard shared pub-grub platters of nachos and wings, but crab cakes and Penn Cove mussels also slid across tables, finding a spot amongst the trivia pencils and papers. While Morse and Barnes broadcast each question over microphones on the small stage, more than a few people nibbled on thick-cut strips of Daily’s bacon dipped in aioli sauce or ordered salads and blackened shrimp subs.

Though the South Whidbey Pub Trivia concept grew out of a desire to bring together Whidbey’s younger adult population, one glance around the room showed that trivia is ageless. Both rooms of the Taproom were completely filled during the October cult classics night, and the handful of 50-plus players held their own with the mostly millennial crowd.

Questions covered anything with a cult following, from books to films, music, people, burger joints and even grocery stores: “What’s the name of Trader Joe’s monthly newsletter?”

Even when living on an island with no Trader Joe’s in sight, hands were busy scribbling “Fearless Flyer.” And more than a few people sang along with their table-mates to finish the lyrics of the In-and-Out Burger tune, “That’s what a hamburger’s all about.”

Even when topics turned literary, some questions held nuggets tied to contemporary trivia, such as identifying which classic book lent the Starbucks coffee chain its name.

Answer: Starbucks is the name of the first-mate aboard the whale-ship Pequod, which is the ship in the novel “Moby Dick” by author Herman Melville.

Katrina Morse, who serves as a librarian in the Freeland library as well as in Mukilteo three days a week, explains that the pub trivia program is one that’s spreading across the country and engaging adults in lifelong learning outside the traditional brick-and-mortar setting.

“We’re meeting customers where they are rather than asking them to come to us,” Morse said. “I think that there’s value in the library getting out in the community and offering non-traditional services.”

Whidbey Island’s first trivia night was launched in Oak Harbor about a year ago, followed this year by kicking off the Bayview event with a 1980s theme in September. The next round takes place on the second Wednesday in November with a theme of “Food and Drink.”

The Taproom at Bayview Corner sits at 5603 Bayview Road in Langley, and the Trivia Night runs 7-8:30 p.m. For more information on future trivia themes, visit the library website at sno-isle.org. Updated details, as well as information on additional pub events, is available at taproombayviewcorner.com.