alcoholic drink made from grain, generally barley, infused with hops and boiled and fermented, Old English beor "strong drink, beer, mead," cognate with Old Frisian biar, Middle Dutch and Dutch bier, Old High German bior, German Bier; a West Germanic word of much-disputed and ambiguous origin.
Probably a 6c. West Germanic monastic borrowing of Vulgar Latin biber "a drink, beverage" (from Latin infinitive bibere "to drink," from PIE root *po(i)- "to drink"). Another suggestion is that it comes from Proto-Germanic *beuwoz-, from *beuwo- "barley." The native Germanic word for the beverage was the one that yielded ale (q.v.). "The word occurs in OE., but its use is rare, except in poetry, and it seems to have become common only in the 16th c. as the name of a hopped malt liquor." [OED] They did have words for it, however. Greek brytos, used in reference to Thracian or Phrygian brews, was related to Old English breowan "brew;" Latin zythum is from Greek zythos, first used of Egyptian beer and treated as an Egyptian word but perhaps truly Greek and related to zymē "leaven."
Spanish cerveza is from Latin cervesia "beer." Old Church Slavonic pivo, source of the general Slavic word for "beer," is originally "a drink" (compare Old Church Slavonic piti "drink"). French bière is a 16c. borrowing from German. U.S. slang beer goggles, through which every potential romantic partner looks desirable, is from 1986.
Beer was a common drink among most of the European peoples, as well as in Egypt and Mesopotamia, but was known to the Greeks and Romans only as an exotic product. [Buck]
Spanish for "beer," from Latin cervisia "beer" (related to Latin cerea "a Spanish beer"), which is perhaps related to Latin cremor "thick broth," or from Celtic *kerb- (compare Gaulish curmi, Old Irish cuirm, Middle Irish coirm, Welsh cwrwf, Old Cornish coref "beer"), from Proto-Celtic *kormi-, probably from the same source as Latin cremare "to burn" (see cremation). "Connection with ceres (as a drink from grain) is very dubious" [Tucker].
type of dark-brown malty beer, 1734, short for porter's ale (1721), porter-beer, etc., from porter (n.1), said to be so called because the beer was made for or preferred by porters and other laborers, being cheap and strong, and it survived into 20c. largely in Ireland. However, as OED points out, "There is no direct contemporary evidence as to the origin of the name," to which Century Dictionary (1897) adds, "There is no evidence that London porters, as distinguished from London cabmen or London artisans, favored this sort of beer."
"sweeten, spice, and heat (a drink)," c. 1600, of unknown origin. Perhaps from Dutch mol, a kind of white, sweet beer, or from Flemish molle a kind of beer, and related to words for "to soften." Related: Mulled; mulling.