The craziest zaniest night of the year is upon us. Nashville’s version of Santa Rampage. Yes, the night where downtown is inundated with over a thousand fanatical characters all dressed in full on Santa regalia. That includes good Santas, bad Santas, drunk Santas (what?), designated driver Santas (never saw him, actually, I walk home), elves, sexy little vixen elves… Well, you get the picture. The point is, everyone is dressed to the max.
So, what the hell is Santa Rampage, you may ask, if you haven’t already heard. Actually, it dates back to 1974 when a Danish theater group called Solvodnen grabbed up a bunch of Santa costumes and partied in Copenhagen. The first American rampage is credited to have occurred in 1978 in Austin. In 1994, the
San Fransisco Cacophony Society launched Santarchy. And is 1996, the generally accepted group title was established as Santacon in Portland.
The earliest record I can find of the Nashville Santapocolypse is 2003, but I don’t think they had computers back then, or something. But included in the slideshow is a promo poster from 2006 that calls it the “4th Annual” Santa Rampage, so let’s go with that.
The Santa Rampage officially starts at 6:00 p.m. at the Beer Sellar. All the Santas meet up, grab a pint or three, then head to Courthouse Square for the official group photo in front of the Christmas tree. Not all the Santas make it, of course, but there will easily be five or six hundred there for the picture.
The picture, that’s another story. So you’ve got these six hundred Santas, slowly sauntering in and gathering into this mass, crazy group, with six hundred cell phone cameras at the ready. So Santas are moving in and out, and who is in front, you, tall guy, get in back, and everyone needs a picture on their own camera. It is a giant, nebulous, amorphous blob, slowly moving this way and that, like an amoeba, maybe even subdividing. At that point, anything seems possible.
The really fun part, though, as we discovered a few years ago, is that there are many sub-groups of Santas that sled their way through the day leading up to the big group shot downtown. We were starting at Bill’s place one year and were going to work our way into town, and the first stop, a block away, is the lovely Gold Rush (no, really, great morning after breakfast). So about six of us slide in, feeling cool in our Santa gear, and there is already a group of Santas there! Turns out the Red Ops Alpha Team starts their rampage at Gold Rush at noon with bloody Mary’s, and shots, and whatever.
That’s where the Music City Beer Society comes in to play, and how all this relates to beer. The Beer Society motto is “we are about the beer,” and they decided to create an official beer related pre-rampage route of their own. This year’s route is the Nashville Brewery District.
The Nashville Brewery District itself seemed to just come about organically. We’ve had Yazoo Brewing Company on Division for a few years now, then started to hear about a new brewery that was going to open about three blocks away. Just over two years ago Jackalope Brewing Company did just that. Then this past year Czann’s Brewing Company quietly opened at Fifth and Lea, and finally Tennessee Brew Works opened right between Jackalope and Czann’s at Ewing and Ash. So, what, about seven or eight blocks between Yazoo in the west and Czann’s to the east? Add the great craft beer taproom Hops and Crafts about two more blocks to the west, and there it is. The Nashville Brewery District.
The Music City Beer Society pre-rampage unofficially starts at the Asterisk for a select few (you don’t know it and I’m not telling, STS), then officially begins at Czann’s at the east end of the District for a private tour. Committing about an hour to each location, the pre-rampage is to roll west through Tennessee Brew Works, Jackalope, Yazoo, then Hops and Crafts. From Hops, the pre-sotted pre-rampagers will jump on the Music City Circuit green line free bus to head downtown for the official Santa Rampage. Party on.
The Music City Beer Society is a significant group of just under 1,000 beer enthusiasts. Most of their events are posted on their Meetup page, which is a private group but is free to join. The final line of their mission statement reads: “Our goal is to offer another voice& source of knowledge outside of the myriad of corporate beer information sources. Through friendship, camaraderie, and active participation, the appreciation and understanding of quality beer is paramount. As always, it’s about the beer.”
Time for a pint. Cheers!