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From Biology-Online Dictionary | Biology-Online Dictionary
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1. A fermented liquor made from any malted grain, but commonly from barley malt, with hops or some other substance to impart a bitter flavor.

beer has different names, as small beer, ale, porter, brown stout, lager beer, according to its strength, or other qualities. See Ale.

2. A fermented extract of the roots and other parts of various plants, as spruce, ginger, sassafras, etc. Small beer, weak beer; (fig) insignificant matters. To suckle fools, and chronicle small beer.

Origin: oe. Beor, ber, as. Beor; akin to Fries. Biar, Icel. Bjrr, OHG. Bior, D. & g. Bier, and possibly E. Brew. 93, see Brew.