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The Hobby Drinker Blog

The Wonderful Words of Beer Draft 4

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 Pivo – is the Czech word for beer.   It is also the word found in Slavic languages in general.  It comes from an Indo-European root, meaning drink, and has a related word in modern Czech: pit, to drink.  It is also cognate with Ancient Greek πῖνον, apparently meaning “beer” as well.

The Wonderful Words of Beer Draft 3

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Bier – is the German word for beer.  Like the English term, it comes from old Indo-European roots, but the exact ones are undetermined.  It could be related to words for barley or for cooking, are from Latin bibere – to drink.

Germany is the home of the famous Reinheitsgebot, which limits the ingredients of beer to water, malt, yeast and hops (actually a later addition).  While it sounds good for marketing a pure and traditional beverage, there are large numbers of beer drinkers who will happily take a glass of more creative brew, with other plants giving aroma, flavor, color or feel to the beverage.  German beer is divided into categories according to strength, as well as into different styles.  Craft beer is Germany follows similar trends as in other countries in terms of tastes.

The Wonderful Words of Beer Draft 2

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Cerveza – the Spanish word for beer, from Latin as one would expect.  What one doesn’t expect is that the Latin word could be a borrowing, or be influenced by, a Celtic language.  The Proto-Celtic *kormi- could be related to Latin cremare (to burn), as well as having produced a number of Celtic words for a fermented beverage.  The experts doubt that there is any connection to ceres (grain) despite the use of grain in brewing, possibly because it wasn’t that popular among the Romans. 

The Wonderful Words of Beer Draft 1

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Beer – the most basic of our words, the basis for our collection in fact. It’s an old, old word too, from the depths of our linguistic origins, although the exact original meaning is lost in the seas of time.  It might have to do the yeast that produces alcohol, or with the barley that feeds the yeast, or even something completely out of our logical deductions.

In English, the oldest form is beor, but that particular beverage was not what we consider beer today.  A bitter, fermented malt drink, possibly with hops, was an ealu (more on that later), while beor was sweeter and maybe made from fruit rather than grain.  More of a cider than a modern idea of beer.  Over time, with outside influences from the continent, the word beer became limited to a grain-based alcoholic drink.

Modern beer is defined as an alcoholic drink brewed from water, malt, hops, and yeast, the malt traditionally being derived from barley.  Quite a number of modern breweries use a different source for their malt, either because of cost cutting or because of local traditions.  Beer today is the umbrella term, taking in ales and lagers, as well as lambics.