Think of it this way.. beer = bier = bierre = biru = pivo, etc.
Except, that there is much discussion as to whether pivo is a deriviation of beer or of the same root of the word pit' in Russian, meaning to drink. Pivo is thought by some to mean 'that which is drunk', which may indicate the consumption of beer in the past in preference to water.
The bread + water aspect of brewing does work in Russia, though. Despite more modern methods of producing kvas along the same lines as beer (Randy mosher gives an AG recipe for Kvas in Radical Brewing
), it was traditionally made by soaking stale rye bread in water and then allowing it to ferment. The word kvas relates to the process of fermentation, rather than any word for beer.
I'm going to have to get out a Russian Orthodox Bible and look for beer references now, aren't I.....?
Oh, and as a College Professor who spent way too long in school, you don't want to go back Drew.