A good portion of my day job is dealing with linguistics and understanding how to use and develop rules of language to deal with our company's challenges. To that end, I spend a fair amount of time working with an actual full blooded and degreed up individual with knowledge of how this actually works.
When talking about the hobby, she pointed out something very interesting. There's a whole branch of linguistics that studies the evolution of language and how things have transformed over time. One of the techniques they use to trace language relationships is key words that pretty much appear everywhere and change relatively slowly. Beer is one of those words. Think of it this way.. beer = bier = bierre = biru = pivo, etc.
Hey, my wife has a Masters in Linguistics! And I've got a doctor in linguini, but that's another story, wokka wokka.
Alton Brown or someone equally intelligent said something along the lines of: civilization started because people started cultivating crops, and supposedly those crops were being cultivated specifically for beer-making. I would not be surprised if it turned up somewhere in the Bible.
The casting bread upon the waters thing (and the grain cake thing) is really cool! My wife and I are reading the entire Bible in one year, I'll keep a lookout for further references. Maybe I can even eek out a recipe!
Michael, do you have an Internets link to that article?