How Beer is Made
Beer and Happoshu in Japan
When you reach for a cold beer, you have many types to choose from, and you are probably thinking about the taste. But do you know what is actually in your beer? Also, in Japan, there is a beer-like beverage called “happoshu.” In this blog, we'll explore the difference between beer and happoshu and what ingredients are used in each.
Beer and Happoshu
Happoshu is a beer-like beverage which is cheaper than beer due to Japan’s tax on alcohol. So, what is the legal deference between beer and happoshu?
Beer: has a malt content of 50% or more
Happoshu: is a beer-like beverage that has a malt content of less than 50%
What is in Beer?
Beer is basically made from water, yeast, hops and malts. Hops are a type of herb and are used to add bitterness to balance the sweetness of the malt. Malted barley is the most commonly used grain. Yeast is, quite simply, a kind of fungi. Fermentation is the process by which yeast converts the glucose in the wort to alcohol and carbon dioxide gas, giving the beer both its alcohol content and its carbonation.
In addition to those four main ingredients, there are also auxiliary ingredients used in brewing. In Japan, corn, potatoes, sugars, rice, starch, food coloring and kaoliang liquor can be used legally to brew beer. Using anything outside of those ingredients such as chocolate, spices, tea, fruits and herbs, or having a malt ratio below 50%, automatically makes the drink happoshu. Other countries, including the US, don’t have such strict rules.
There has been a massive increase in new brands of happoshu in recent years to increase the market share. And lately, new trends have emerged, like making healthier products with low carbohydrates and purines. But happoshu sometimes appears to be a little less appealing, with a flavor that is not as "full" as real beer. So…try as many beers and happoshu as possible and find your favorite beverage during your stay in Japan!