Eat, drink — and think

Quench your thirst and feed your brain with these seriously educational — and seriously fun — events.

OAD FIre cropA demo of gases' explosive properties at OMSI After Dark's annual "Fire & Ice" event.
Courtesy of OMSI

Pop quiz! Where can you hit the books and the bar in Portland? Pump your mental muscles at these entertaining talks, classes, demonstrations and events that combine local eats, craft brews and plenty of stimulating conversation. 


By day, the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) charms curious kids with hands-on exhibitions exploring technology, industry and natural sciences. But once a month, parents get the run of the place, thanks to OMSI After Dark events filled with kid-free fun. On the last Wednesday of every month, adults flood the museum for an evening of local food, beer, wine, music and, of course, science: Lessons include demos and discussions on subjects like brewing, explosions and even sex.

Another OMSI event, Science Pub invites experts to host casual, interactive lectures on hot topics like cancer genomes, food science and the physics of music. Events alternate between OMSI’s Empirical Theater and the historic Hollywood Theatre, with snacks like hand-tossed pizza and local beer on tap.


Independent thinkers gather in the Alberta Rose Theatre, a plucky alt performing arts venue, for Oregon Humanities’ celebrated Think & Drink series. The donation-based happy hour event is open to the public and features thought-provoking talks by authors, activists and anthropologists. Discussion topics run the gamut from governmental surveillance and vaccinations to social justice-driven science fiction. Linger in the lobby for beer, wine, champagne and snacks like hot Australian pasties.


History buffs love local brewing empire McMenamins, whose in-house historians carefully research, preserve and commemorate the stories of all 65 (and counting) McMenamins properties. In a typical week, life-long learners might catch a panel discussion led by World War II survivors at Kennedy School, a lecture on Northwest Native Americans at Edgefield, a presentation on Willamette Valley agriculture at the Old Church & Pub and a UFO story-swapping session at Mission Theater — all paired with treats like McMenamins’ beloved tater tots and pints of Hammerhead ale.


Awaken your inner Monet with acrylics and Merlot at the Sellwood studio of Vine Gogh Artist Bar or downtown’s Bottle & Bottega. Students sit at stations stocked with aprons, brushes, paints and canvases as local artists patiently guide them through the creative process. More of a paint-by-numbers type? Get in the creative mood with a little liquid encouragement, in the form of Northwest wine, Oregon craft beer and hard cider … just don’t spill it on your masterpiece!


Test your smarts and impress your friends with a brain-bending evening hosted by ShanRock’s Triviology. Talented “Trivia Jocks” lead teams through seven wild rounds that might include video and audio clips, scavenger hunts, live music, food tasting and physical challenges — think Nerf dart shooting and golf ball putting. With a dozen events each week at bars across Portland, there are plenty of chances for you to put your pop culture knowledge to good use — while enjoying local pints and pub grub, of course.

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