The best pub quizzes in Beijing

Settle scores with a midweek trivia trial at one of these thinking sessions

Unleash your inner nerd with one of these trivial pursuits hosted by Beijing's fine pubs.

The Local

When Every Tuesday, 8.30pm.

The lowdown The limousine length of The Local’s bar space might not seem like the most conducive to quizzing – it’s loud, it’s a long way to the back, and you might get prodded by a pool cue here and there – but its trivia night actually proves to be one of the best in town, with an amiable ambience about the place.

Everybody who’s packed in seems in it to win it, and silence falls as questions are announced, breaking the boozy mirth. There’s no focus on current affairs, so it’s more about what you’ve got in the dome, and we’re put to work on subjects such as ’90s alt-rock, video game history, Beyoncé (a popular topic across the city’s quizzes) and famous criminals. A cute ‘n’ fluffy dog breeds picture round was a nice counterpoint to the pub vibes. Not a regular though, unfortunately.

The hosts Chinese and American probing pair Alan and Nick.

Rounds Six, including picture, ‘What’s the link?’, music and an all-or-nothing points wager.

Difficulty 3/5.

Cost Free; up to eight per team.

Prizes First, a bottle of booze and mixer; second, a jug of cocktail; second to last, a jug of beer.

Deals Happy hour prices throughout for quiz participants. Follow WeChat account 'The_Local_Sanlitun' for more.

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Gongti Bei Lu (around the corner from Q Mex) (Changping)

Q Mex Bar and Grill (Sanlitun)

When Every Wednesday, 8.30pm.

The lowdown The USP of Q Mex’s offering is that it’s the city’s only fully bilingual quiz, with all questions announced and screened in both English and Chinese. Besides being linguistically accessible, the trivia is also among the easiest, most poppy and current of the quizzes we visited, so you’re all in with a shot. (For the record, we didn’t win – we didn’t win any of the quizzes).

It’s not the fastest moving affair, but this is a generous and friendly quiz in a raucous atmosphere (it might even be too loud for some scholars); not everyone is here for the trivia, and due to the restaurant’s popularity, booking a table for a larger group is essential.

The host The bilingual dream team of Stuart and Scarlet.

Rounds Eight, including picture, news, music, a point wager wipeout and 'Back to School' – things you should have remembered from the classroom.

Difficulty 2/5.

Cost Free; up to six per team (forfeits for larger teams).

Prizes First, 200RMB drink vouchers; second, 100RMB drink vouchers; consolation booze for second to last.

Deals Free jug of beer just for entering; happy hour until 9pm. Follow WeChat account 'pengcierquiz' for more.

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Gongti Bei Lu (Sanlitun, --select--)


When Every Tuesday, 8pm.

The lowdown 4Corners' smaller space out back actually makes for the best quiz setting in town, and although it may be super-friendly, its midweek mindmash is hotly contested; with prizes up for grabs after each round, there’s a rewarding, fun-focused atmosphere about the place, and the accessible quiz sees high scores that puts everyone in with a shot at the top. Content can be a tad US-centric at times, though its regulars do indeed come from all four corners of the world, including the Grumpy Old Men and Quiz on My Face.

There’s also a chance to snag points before you even arrive, with a two-point picture puzzle released a few hours before the quiz via the official WeChat account (ID: Pubquiz).

The host A changing cast, after the departure of long-term question master Mathew Couri Jacobs.

Rounds Five, including picture, music and a wipeout finale.

Difficulty 3.5/5.

Cost Free; up to eight per team.

Prizes A big bottle of booze of your team’s choice; winners of each round receive a round of shots, a dessert or fries to share.

Deals 4Corners' flatbread pizzas are two-for-one until the quiz starts at 8pm; buckets of six beers are 100RMB (Tiger) and 150RMB (Corona) throughout. Follow WeChat account 'Pubquiz' for more.

Did you see the picture question at the top of this article or in the December 2018 Time Out Beijing magazine? Here's the answer:
Luke Skywalker. These are the line colours of China's four largest subway systems (l-r: Shanghai, Beijing, Shenzhen, Guangzhou). The 'I' covers red lines, while the 'II' covers each system's Line 5; in the Star Wars series (clue: the Rebel symbol), Red 5 is the call name of a piloting Luke Skywalker. Easy, no?

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27 Dashibei Hutong (Fengtai)


When Every Wednesday, 8pm.

The lowdown Wudaokou: the beating heart of Beijing’s university district; a cradle of knowledge where the great minds of tomorrow are nurtured – or neutered by gallons of questionably cheap alcohol. Lush’s quiz, however, certainly gets the cogs a-turnin’, providing a more erudite alternative to the all-week slosh fest that rages around it.

A few teams of regulars populate the eight-week leaderboard, including the seemingly notorious Brexit Means Brexit, whose name was met with jeers at each mention. It's a welcoming environment thought, and our thinking caps are firmly on for topics as broad as Greek mythology, measurements, superheroes and military history.

The host The charismatic, diplomatic Julian Vargas – firm but fair with marking disputes. Gives out free shots to struggling teams as encouragement (or punishment).

Rounds Five, including current events and a suitably party-startin’ music round; a guest round gives budding quizmasters the chance to cut their teeth.

Difficulty 4/5.

Cost Free; up to eight people.

Prizes First, a bottle of Jameson, coke and ice; second, an 'Epic Size Cocktail'; third, a round of Tsingtaos.

Deals Happy hour 7-9pm; 70RMB for seven Tsingtaos; post-quiz, head down to neighbouring Pyro Pizza and flash your quiz sheet to receive a free pitcher of beer. Follow WeChat account 'lushjiuba' for more.

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1 Chengfu Lu (Shunyi)

Paddy O'Shea's

When Every Wednesday, 8pm.

The lowdown You might prefer silence to think, but the ever-packed Paddy’s is a good shout for a bustlin’, boozy quiz. Packing in six rounds, it’s not the snappiest of affairs; a 20-question picture round kicks things off at an amble, but the speed picks up, and in true sporting spirit, it’s an international event (we learnt a thing or two about Greek musicians and the Dutch spice trade).

It’s perhaps the slickest operation in town, with smooth AF PowerPoints and a quizmaster’s assistant out in the field collecting scores – and keeping an eye out for cheating scoundrels. As ever, full 360-degree surround sport plays on a million different screens throughout. The host Currently a troupe of merry men taking it in turns. Rounds Five, including picture, wipeout and music rounds.

Difficulty 2.5/5.

Cost Free; no limit to team size.

Prizes First, a tower of 'posh' beer or mixed drink; second, a tower of local beer; third, a Paddy’s scarf or t-shirt. Winner of each round gets a lucky dip prize.

Deals None, though daily happy hour runs until 8pm, allowing you to loosen up beforehand. Follow WeChat account 'paddysbeijing' for more.

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28 Dongzhimenwai Dajie (Changping)

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  • 4 out of 5 stars