Chiefly British Slang. matters or persons of little or no importance.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023
How to use small beer in a sentence
In the Czech Republic, beer often comes as a snyt, a small beer priced accordingly low, served with a big head in a big glass.
Drinking lots of small beers also means that staying for one extra is marginally less likely to be catastrophic, as you aren’t committing to two or three extra units of alcohol or another chunk of cash.
All this is small beer compared with the supergrass that BCL Burton Copeland may turn out to be.
Like most of our public figures and celebrities, our “most wanted” criminals are small beer.
The sour Medoc was sparingly drunk, mixed with sugar and water; some drank home-brewed small beer, the majority only water.Skipper Worse | Alexander Lange Kielland
There was something superb in it, something heroically mad—not the sordid drunkenness of small beer.The Woman Gives | Owen Johnson
He seemed but half awake; and it was with drowsy voice that he called for a cup of cold small beer.Peveril of the Peak | Sir Walter Scott
The stump of a cabbage, and the proverb means much the same thing as "Spare no expense, bring another bottle of small beer."Our Cats and All About Them | Harrison Weir
As often as I called for small-beer, the master tipped the wink, and the servant brought me a brimmer of October.The Ontario Readers: The High School Reader, 1886 | Ministry of Education
British Dictionary definitions for small beer
informal, mainly British people or things of no importance
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
Other Idioms and Phrases with small beer
Also, small potatoes. Of little importance, as in Don't listen to Henry; he's small beer, or It's silly to worry about that bill; it's small potatoes. The first term alludes to a beer of low alcoholic content (also called light beer today) and was used metaphorically by Shakespeare in several plays. The variant may have been invented by frontiersman Davy Crockett; it was first recorded in 1836. Also see small fry, def. 2.
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.