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Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Coming Soon to a Brew Pub Near You

posted by on February 27 at 11:00 AM

Always read the obits—I learned that from mom. And not just the death notices of the rich and famous, as you probably already know all about them. Read the obits of folks you’ve never heard of, as those are the ones that tend to surprise and enlighten. Take the obit in today’s New York Times for “Alan D. Eames, 59, Scholar of Beers Around the World.” Eames was famous enough, of course, to rate a large obit in the NYT—with a picture—but not famous enough for non-beer obsessives to be aware of his life or work. (My brother Bill, I expect, can quote chapter and verse from Eames’ book The Secret Life of Beer.)

Reading Eames’ obit, I learned that the oldest beer advertisement ever discovered dates to 4000 B.C.. It’s for a beer called Elba, “the beer with the heart of a lion.” Elba was apparently the Coors Light of ancient Mesopotamia: the Elba ad—an ancient stone tablet—shows a headless woman with huge breasts holding up two goblets of beer. It took only six thousand years of human civilization to perfect beer ads—we now use two pairs of enormous breasts, preferably attached to twins.

Reading the Eames obit I also learned that beer, despite its masculine association in today’s culture, was…

…the most feminine of beverages. [Eames] said that in almost all ancient societies beer was a considered a gift from a goddess, never a male god.

And finally I learned something about early beer brewing practices that will not, I hope, be resurrected by modern beer snobs and microbrew obsessives…

…women began the brewing process by chewing grains and spitting them into a pot to form a fermentable mass.

RSS icon Comments


I will be raising a glass in Eames's honor at Chicago's best beer bar, The Hopleaf. And thinking about goddesses.

Posted by BIll | February 27, 2007 11:15 AM

Brew pup?

Posted by Fnarf | February 27, 2007 11:18 AM

Sorry about the tybo, Fnarf.

Posted by Dan Savage | February 27, 2007 11:25 AM

that's so heartening to hear! i write obituaries for a living, no lie, and everybody always tells me that my section is not to be skipped over.

of course, they're all over 65 and probably searching for their great aunts' death notices, but still.

oh, how i long for the day to write an obit about a scholar of beer... the best i get are seasonal santas. boo.

Posted by kim | February 27, 2007 11:27 AM

Headless women are not hot, no matter haw huge her breasts...

Posted by Mike in MO | February 27, 2007 11:41 AM

Mind your peas and bees, Dan.

I love obituaries. Just the ordinary people in the back of the paper. I've read thousands of them. You get a real feel for what life is like, even if it's fragmentary and grasping, in not very good English.

Posted by Fnarf | February 27, 2007 12:10 PM

Well, I'd rather drink beer made from pre-chewed grains than that Original Pussy Beer. Just a personal preference.

Posted by him | February 27, 2007 12:49 PM

I read obits trying to guess who was gay.

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