beer = coffin ?
Apparently "bière" * refers to both coffin as well as beer ...
(actually - I noticed that reading L'Etranger by Camus ... sorry, for the bragging :)
My two etymological theories:
1) people used to (and still do) drink a lot of alcohol (beer) to cope with grief from close ones having passed away.
2) the term originally refers to the wooden box - where either bottles or bodies are kept in.
I believe they're just homonyms with different etymologies. 'Bière', as in the drink, comes from the Latin 'bibere', to drink. The internet tells me that 'bière' or 'bier' in English, as in coffin, comes from the old English 'ber' or some variation of that.
> from the old English 'ber' or some variation of that
that would make sense of course (to be(a)r something ... first a woman bears you and then four men :S )
A bier is an old word for a stretcher/frame on which a dead person (or coffin) is placed on the way to burial.