Cal Poly Magazine Editor Larry Peña spends most of his free time flipping through encyclopedias and getting lost in Google searches. He spends around five hours every week doing research — not for his work at the magazine, but for the weekly trivia games he hosts around San Luis Obispo county.
Before moving to San Luis Obispo, Peña lived in Napa Valley, where his wife worked at a brewery. He became a regular at the trivia nights the bar hosted. When the trivia host mysteriously stopped coming in, Peña jumped at the opportunity to take over.
“One day the trivia host just stopped showing up,” Peña said. “He had an assistant and his assistant had no idea where he was, so they asked me if I wanted to take over. I gave myself a couple of weeks to prepare and jumped in.”
After moving to San Luis Obispo, he brought the game with him and turned his love for trivia into a business. Peña now writes and creates all aspects of his game Brain Stew Trivia.
“The whole reason I got into this was because I loved playing trivia and was generally pretty good at it,” Peña said. “I basically just keep tricking breweries into paying me to do my hobby.”
The first round starts with a 10-question news quiz surrounding the week’s current events. From there, topics range from pop culture, language and wordplay, to the distinctive “gimme 10” round — where players are given 10 clues and the sooner they guess, the more points they receive. Each round starts with four or five things Peña knows off the top of his head, and everything else he fills with online research.
“It been a really good community of nerds that we’ve been able to build over the last couple of years,” Peña said. “It’s been super fun.”
Currently, Peña can be found hosting trivia on Wednesday nights at Bang the Drum Brewery in San Luis Obispo and on Tuesday nights at Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co. in Arroyo Grande.
“I would love to eventually turn Brain Stew into a bit of an empire for me,” said Peña. “Some day, if this takes off and I can become the next Alex Trebek or Scott Rogowsky, then I’ll totally take that.”