The way beer is taxed has impacted traditional styles throughout the world, creating weaker beers in Britain and helping forge new brewing methods in Belgium. Kamini Dickie takes a look at Japan’s happōshu, a high-adjunct brew that can’t be called beer.
Happōshu exists because Japan’s tax on beer is based on malted barley content, not alcohol; the greater the malt volume in the brew, the more tax the brewer must pay. In Japan, alcoholic malt beverages are split into three tax categories. The highest tax bracket is traditional beer or bīru, made with a minimum of 50% malt, with permitted adjuncts limited to barley, wheat, rice, corn, potatoes, sorghum, sugar and starch.
Then comes happōshu, or ‘low malt beverage’, made with less than 50% malt, with a sub tax bracket for versions that use less than 25% malt. The remaining portion of the grain bill is made up of adjuncts, with a host of ingredients allowed, including fruit and spice.