Beer vs bier

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Beer and bier are two words that are pronounced in the same way but are spelled differently and have different meanings. We will examine the meanings of the words beer and bier, where the terms come from and some examples of their use in sentences.

Beer is an alcoholic beverage brewed from grain, usually malt, and flavored with hops. Beer is the third most popular beverage in the world, surpassed in popularity only by water and tea. Beer is the oldest alcoholic beverage, possibly dating back to the first farming of grain in the Neolithic period around 9500 BC. The word beer is most probably derived from the Dutch and German term, bier, which in turn was probably formed from the Latin word biber, meaning a drink.

A bier is a platform or frame which a coffin is rested upon for the viewing of the body, at a funeral or to transport the coffin to the grave. Sometimes the word bier refers to the platform and the coffin, combined. The word bier is derived from the Old English words bær and ber, which meant litter or bed.


Nikiski’s Kassik’s Brewery beat out competitors from across the nation to win first place in both the beer and barleywine categories at the Great Alaska Beer and Barleywine Festival, a first in the 23-year history of the event. (The Alaska Dispatch News)

What would you do if you were stuck in Anheuser-Busch beer country with 4,000 bottles of — better cover the Clydesdales’ ears — chardonnay, cabernet and other wine varietals? (The Mercury-News)

A restored funeral bier, last used at the 1957 funeral of her grandfather, Alderman George Jenkins, twice mayor of the town, will be used. (The Western Telegraph)