Origin of small beer
Examples from the Web for small beer
Historical Examples of small beer
M. M. Plentiful diet of flesh-meat and vegetables with small-beer.Zoonomia, Vol. II
His usual beverage was small-beer and cider, and Madeira wine.Washington and the American Republic, Vol. 3.
Benson J. Lossing
One morning a man stepped in and bought a bottle of small-beer.
"Bread and cheese and small-beer, father," says she, smiling.English Fairy Tales
Flora Annie Steel
This production ‘was voted heretical,’ and burned by the hands of the small-beer drawer, while the author was expelled.Oxford
1560s, originally "weak beer;" used figuratively of small things or trifling matters. Small with the meaning "of low alcoholic content" is attested from mid-15c.
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.