Thanks to the New England Anomaly mailing list for catching this!
The 'Indiana Jones of beer'To read Eames' last article, about witches and their bubbling brew, please visit this site:
DOUGLAS MARTIN, New York Times
Monday, March 05, 2007
Dummerston, VT - Alan Eames, who cultivated his reputation as "the Indiana Jones of beer" by crawling into Egyptian tombs to read hieroglyphics about beer and voyaging along the Amazon in search of a mysterious lost black brew, died Feb. 10 at his home in Dummerston, Vt. He was 59.
His wife, Sheila, said he died after suffering respiratory failure while he slept.
Eames called himself a beer anthropologist, a role that allowed him to expound on subjects like what he put forward as the world's oldest beer advertisement, dating to roughly 4000 BC.
In it a Mesopotamian stone tablet depicted a headless woman with enormous breasts holding goblets of beer in each hand. The tagline, at least in his interpretation, was: "Drink Elba, the beer with the heart of a lion."
He explored similar topics in seven books, the best known of which was The Secret Life of Beer (1995), in myriad radio and television appearances and in speeches at colleges and other institutions. A typical title: Beer: A Gift from God, or the Devil's Training Wheels.
Eames, who followed the golden liquid to 44 countries, often told about his perilous trek high in the Andes in pursuit of an ancient brew made from strawberries the size of baseballs. Or about Aztecs forbidding drunkenness except among those 52
years of age or older. Or about accounts that said Norse ale was served with garlic to ward off evil.
His beer-related business ventures began in the mid-1970s with his acquisition of Gleason's Package Store in Templeton, Mass., near Gardner, which became known for its large beer selection. He conceived, designed and operated Three Dollar Dewey's Ale House in Portland, Me., and another with the same name in Brattleboro.
Alan Eames, who never learned to drive or use a computer, wrote his last article about witchcraft and beer. He himself stopped drinking the stuff eight years ago.
Eames makes a final note at the end of the article: "This article is dedicated to the memory of my ancestor, Rebecca Eames of Boxford, MA. She was condemned to death for witchcraft on September 17, 1692. Rebecca Eames was unique - not only confessing to having had sex with the Devil - but worse - having enjoyed it."
Also of interest is a mention of another presence that he founded: "Mr. Eames had a life-long passion for ghost stories. In the awful, Eames found strange beauty and of these things, he was a scholar without peer. He had great admiration for the author, HP Lovecraft. Together, he and his wife successfully created the Lovecraft in Vermont Festival in 2006 as a celebration of Lovecraft’s life and ties to Vermont." To hear a New Hampshire Public Radio piece about the festival, please click here.
A lover of animals, especially cats and turtles, Eames did his best by small creatures to the end. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to Windham County Humane Society, 916 West River Road, Brattleboro, Vermont, 05301.