Little is known about the life of Beer (not to be confused with John Axel-Richard Beer, 1853-1906). He spent most of his life working in London, at one time using the studio over Fores Gallery, formerly used by A. C. Havell. For a short period he is recorded as living on Goldsmith Street, Nottingham.
Beer worked in oil, watercolor, and gouache. Flat racing and point to point were his main subjects. His other key work includes a set of eight pictures of The Derby. He regularly painted racehorse portraits in oils, and was one of several artists who were employed to produce quick spontaneous race finishes. Beer’s drawings were hung at the race course so that late arrivers to the race track could see who had won the earlier races. Beer unfortunately fell into the trap of competing with photographs.