Murphys establishment offers weekly trivia contest

Trivia Night at Murphys Pourhouse draws a large crowd looking for something different to occupy a summer evening.

Question: Where can Calaveras County residents and visitors go for drinks, food and fun with family and friends on Wednesday nights this summer? Answer: The Murphys Pourhouse for Trivia Night is an option that checks all the boxes.

Every Wednesday at 6 p.m., a crowd gathers at picnic tables placed under the shade of silver maple, valley oak and coast redwood trees for a trivia competition on Main Street in Murphys.

“It’s usually packed … it’s the biggest night of the week,” said Donnie Sharpe, who often works behind the bar on Wednesdays. “(People) come for the community aspect, for the challenge, and you can win a prize.”

The top three teams each get a gift card to the Pourhouse for either $10, $15 or $25. “Most of the teams come back every week – it’s super competitive,” Sharpe said.

Over 50 people were in attendance for the free event on July 10. They sat chatting and consuming food and beverages as the sun sank behind the trees.

The crowd ran the gamut from infants to grandparents. Several groups of children, not especially excited about trivia, played among the shrubs and trees in the yard, as dogs lazed in the shade. Their shouts and laughter wafted over the crowd throughout the evening.

As the beginning of the competition neared, 10 teams of six took their places at various picnic tables set out on the lawn. Some competitors were longtime teammates; others had just met for the first time.

Trivia Master Jeff Carrico kicked off the competition.

Questions covered sports, geography, literature, music and more. Four rounds were played, one of which included identifying celebrity pictures and naming songs, and another that featured questions exclusively about the television show “Breaking Bad.”

Excited voices were hushed following a question, and then grew louder until the next question was asked. Groans of frustration were mingled with cries of triumph.

“It’s a great event that happens once per week. It’s family friendly, and you get to have a bit of fun,” said Jason Gill, who has attended the event since it began in 2017. “It’s something that you can always count on to be there, and it’s grown significantly over the past year and a half. A lot of good people come out, and it’s a good time to be had by all.”

But the Murphys Pourhouse has more to offer than just trivia, Gill said.

“The beer and food are fantastic. It’s kind of a casual-style sandwich menu. They have soup and a daily special, and the beer selection is amazing – I would say it’s the best in town,” he said.

Carrico was equally excited about the event. “People are really into it. More so than I honestly expected,” he said.

Carrico used to play in a highly competitive trivia league in the Bay Area. Competitions were held at between 30 and 40 pubs, with the winners going on to a regional competition.

“It was very, very difficult trivia,” he said. “I was an Oracle engineer. I had a Sysco engineer on my team, I had a biochemist, I had a doctor, and the best we ever did in regionals was third place … We were really happy; it was a really tough competition.”

When he moved to the area several years ago, Carrico was disappointed that no local establishments offered trivia competitions.

He suggested the idea of holding a weekly competition at the Murphys Pourhouse after noticing that Wednesday nights were somewhat slow for the establishment.

“They said, ‘Yeah, let’s try it out,’ and it’s been a smashing success,” he said. “Everyone is loving it.”

During the summer, Trivia Night attracts upward of 50 people on average. For “Murphys on a Wednesday night – that’s a great turnout,” Carrico said.

Since the first Trivia Night in 2017, Carrico has rarely missed a week. “We started in the fall (of the year before last), and I’ve taken a couple weeks off for Christmas and a couple of holidays, and I’ve had a couple of guest trivia masters, but I’ve done about 82 weeks myself,” he said.

Carrico said that the venue was ideal for a trivia competition.

“The Pourhouse and trivia go well together because it’s a hangout. This is a place where families can come to get together. ... It’s a place where you can come and the dog can run around, the kids can run around,” he said. “We are just thrilled with how it’s gone.”

Following the final round, answers were tallied and prizes awarded. The winning teams cheered in triumph and the runners-up applauded.

“We keep doing this because of you,” Carrico said. “We’ll do it as long as you support us.”

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Reporter

Noah Berner has lived in Calaveras County most of his life, and graduated from University of California, Santa Cruz with a degree in history.

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