By Nicole Hehl
Raise a pint with a paleontologist and sip a stout beneath a stegosaurus at the Arizona Museum of Natural History’s Beer N’ Bones event on April 13. The museum opens its doors after hours for a 21-and-older evening of drinking that might actually make you smarter.
The unlikely combination of drinking and learning is gaining popularity in an emerging “science café culture,” according to Gavin McCullough, a paleontologist at the museum. The trend brings scientists, historians and those interested in learning together for informal presentations in casual settings that remove the intimidation and add a lightness to learning.
“Science is something that can be accessible and fun, and also, beer’s great,” points out McCullough. “This has dinosaurs and beer, so those are kind of our selling points.”
You’ll be sold with a unique night that combines the discovery of being a kid with one of the joys of being an adult (i.e., drinking beer). Tour the museum and explore the ancient cultures and landscape of the Southwest, while enjoying local beer and great food beneath the mammoth bones of prehistoric creatures. The evening also packs in fun, hands-on science activities, live animal stations and a rooftop band playing under the stars.
The event has the feel of a craft beer festival with participating breweries including Oro Brewing Company, O.H.S.O. Brewery and Distillery, Cider Corps, Desert Eagle Brewing Company, Uncle Bear’s Brewery, Dubina Brewing Company, Scottsdale Beer Company, North Mountain Brewing, SunUp Brewing Company and College Street Brewhouse. You can even learn about the science behind designing a good brew at the hops-smelling station where a brewer will walk you through the pairing of yeast, grain and other ingredients to create different flavors.
For a fast-paced tour of scientific minds, grab a seat for Speed Dating with Scientists. The activity, which happily is not an awkward matchmaking event for lovelorn scientists, features rotating round tables of experts sharing their work in a variety of scientific fields. Leave your “dates” with knowledge in forensics, astrophysics, paleontology, archaeology and other areas. And don’t be shy with the questions, because the scientists love to hear from the non-science crowd.
“It’s really neat and valuable to have perspectives from all different types of people,” says Charlie Rolsky, an ASU doctoral student. “Some of the best questions I’ve ever gotten were from people who weren’t trained in science, which is really cool.”
Rolsky has lent his scientific smarts to the event for several years, sharing his research on plastic pollution as well as killer whale poop.
“It’s kind of an interesting way of getting information about a species but is also really funny for outreach events,” explains Rolsky of his poop research. “Whether its adults or children, when you work with any type of animal poop, generally that’s a good conversation starter.”
Beer N’ Bones also will please foodie fanatics with specialty food trucks Wandering Donkey and Grilled Addiction and a selection of desserts, including gluten-free and vegan options. For those with more exotic taste buds, dig into cricket-flour cookies and other insect desserts at the entomology station.
Memorialize your evening with a caricature of your dinosaur doppelganger, a specialty beer glass or T-shirt designed by the museum’s own McCullough or dinosaur artwork by local artist Lee Davis.
McCullough attributes the success of the museum fundraiser to the generosity and excitement of the local breweries, along with the facility’s education department, volunteers and museum foundation.
“It’s the work of all of those groups that make this thing amazing every year,” McCullough praises.
Beer N’ Bones, Arizona Museum of Natural History, 53 N. Macdonald, Mesa, 480.644.2230, http://arizonamuseumofnaturalhistory.org/, 7 to 11 p.m. Friday, April 13, $20-$45.
For more in-depth articles on upcoming events, visit our attractions page.