The Trivia Stakes are High in Our City’s Brainiest Bar

Sarasota Magazine.com   January 4, 2017
You’re halfway through your third pint, watching scraps of paper being passed back and forth across the wobbly high-top table. You’re surrounded by brilliant minds—professors and attorneys and economists, their faces contorted in concentration, scribbling their theories alongside paper plates littered with pizza crusts. They talk through their thoughts in conspiratorial whispers. The entire evening hinges on this moment.
New Coke, Michael Jackson’s Thriller, Honey Nut Cheerios, Roseanne: Can you put these things in chronological order of their debut, earliest to latest?
….But the bar-based quiz tradition may very well achieve its Platonic ideal Wednesday nights at Growler’s on North Tamiami Trail, where the academic, artistic, esoteric clientele—heavy on alumni and faculty from nearby New College of Florida and Ringling College of Art and Design across the street—has spawned a next-level trivia tradition. While many pubs use supplied questions from a service or company, Growler’s rotating bullpen of hosts takes pride in writing original, multifarious and, most importantly, challenging questions. The crowd holds the hosts accountable for clarity, difficulty and accuracy. Growler’s trivia teams are stacked.
“I’ve gone to [trivia nights at] other places, and it’s not nearly as intellectually stimulating as it is at Growler’s,” says Sarasota attorney and New College grad Chad Bickerton, a regular competitor who also sometimes serves as a Growler’s trivia host. “Most people would say that I ask the hardest questions, and I’ll never apologize for that.”
Weeks when he’s not hosting, Bickerton fields a team that includes, among others, a Riverview High School literature instructor, a medical consultant, a market research analyst, a world-travel tour guide and New College political science professor (and recent state senate candidate) Frank Alcott. Their ages span early 20s to 50-plus, and in addition to their varied professional expertise, they bring different interests to the trivia table—passions for pop music or sports or history. Still, they are no lock to win.