In the beginning most beer was brown – but not all.  Some beer was white, or rather it was known as white.  Brown beer was brewed from malted barley, while a white beer mash contained a high proportion of malted or unmalted wheat. 

As well as for changing the colour, wheat in a mash brings a distinct grainy sweetness when fresh, dissipating with storage to leave a thinner, drier body.  Unfiltered, a wheat beer will sport a hazy suspension of flour.  In any format it will leave a sticky mess in brewing equipment, which can be difficult to clean off and risk infection.

The main wheat beer diaspora spread from northern France to Poland and south through modern Germany and Belgium as far as Austria, with a range of wheat beer styles that was almost as broad as of barley beer.