The Bar: The Old Pequliar is the near-timeless dive located conveniently (although hopefully not TOO conveniently) across the street from>"/>
The Bar: The Old Pequliar is the near-timeless dive located conveniently (although hopefully not TOO conveniently) across the street from Ballard's Swedish Medical Center. With its plain yet robust food menu, a relatively austere interior, its long years of remaining mostly unchanged, and its iconic nature on Ballard's Market Street, it's really hard to say anything about the Irish pub that hasn't been said a hundred times before. The Old Pequliar's distinctive red frontispiece has beckoned salty locals and obnoxious quiz fiends alike for so many years that the line between the two has slowly started to fade . . .
The Quiz: (Tuesdays, 8 p.m., $7 for a team of 6, $5 for any team smaller than that.) Quizmaster James Callan calls Tuesday nights at The Olde Pequliar "Seattle's Brainiest Trivia Night," emphasizing stricter questions than you'll find in your average pub quiz. While the "Brainiest" title might be questioned by reputable knowledge sadomasochists like those at The George and Dragon, The Olde Pequliar's trivia night is quite definitely one of the most popular quizzes in Seattle, known to regularly pack the house almost an hour before starting time. A hefty eight rounds of 10 questions puts Pequliar on the same quiz trajectory as Geeks Who Drink trivia nights, although the Ballard independent stands apart in its rigorous focus on ending their monster quiz at a reasonable hour.
Unfortunately, the goal of getting through the quiz as quickly and clearly as possible often ran into opposition with The Olde Pequliar's lively audience. The tone of the quizmaster edged dangerously toward shrill in his demand for attention, and a conservative attitude toward repeating questions led to some nerve-wracking moments on particularly difficult questions. It would be tantamount to sacrilege to say that The Olde Pequliar is ill-equipped for quizzing, but hopefully 's some production element will come into play eventually which will make competing for attention a little less antagonistic between quizzer and quizzees.
One aspect of the quiz experience that I haven't been reporting on nearly enough is the social-media extension that a lot of local trivia nights have started to build. This is mostly because a lot of the Facebook pages or Twitter feeds for these quizzes mostly comprise a weekly reminder and, if you're lucky, the theme of that week's quiz. Both the Facebook page and Tumblr account for The Olde Pequliar differ here dramatically, offering not only a periodic hint at the coming week's categories, but replays of past weeks' audio rounds and a neat, succinct list of notes to summarize each night's standings (e.g.: "Four teams knew how many r's were in 'riot grrrl.'") In a medium as ephemeral and elusive as hosting a pub quiz, it's really refreshing to see such a detailed network of follow-through, making trivia night into something that doesn't necessarily begin and end with hungover recollections.
The Host(s): While James Callan is essentially the figurehead of Olde Pequliar's pub quiz, earning his leadership role through nearly five years of hosting, a veritable stable of other quizmasters are dedicated to making the quality night out into a weekly affair. While Quizmaster Kevin is the only other regular host to go solo, the trivia teams of Pete & Jason and David & Dan round out each month at The Old Pequliar.
With so much diversity among these experienced hosts, picking favorites is inevitably going to become a factor. However, the Pequliar crew seems to have planned accordingly by offering a full hosting schedule here. If you notice a few empty spaces in that schedule, that's because the end of every host "cycle" is followed by a volunteer guest host from one of the regular teams. While James admits this has yielded a couple of dud nights in the past, he assures that the regular hosts have a more judicious reviewing process to make sure that patrons can expect a dependable balance of novelty and consistency.
The Verdict: As I mentioned before, between the fast pace of reading questions and the stern front that Pequliar hosts often need to put on when it comes to Chatty Cathys, this isn't the best trivia night for a more social night out. If you're looking for a more laid-back atmosphere at the expense of trivia depth, I'd recommend a more open night like the ones at Chapel or Bourbon. But a solid 80 questions, a house packed full of stiff competition, and a serious cash pot that's matched by the bar are all tantalizing details for those of you looking for a more immersive trivia experience.
Not only is this a great night for trivia experts, but the hosting vacancy that comes along every four weeks is a solid opportunity for those of you looking to take your quiz drunk to the next level. While Prost! has offered a similar chance for just about anyone to get behind the microphone, you won't get the same experienced support there, nor will you get as large or intense a crowd to test your resolve.
The final, perhaps most distinctive, quality of the Old Pequliar quiz is just how prolific it's gotten over its years and years in existence. Just to put things in perspective, The Old Pequliar does a 10-question round on Movies every week, with every answer being a title of a film. The 11th bonus question is always the name of the actor or actress who has starred in all 10 of those films. In the interest of not repeating themselves too often, the Pequliar crew kept a list of all of the actors this category had ever included. Here is that list, a testament to the sheer volume of ass-kicking obscurity that has culminated within the walls of The Old Pequliar.