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  • Writer's pictureHusky & Onigunsô

Japanese Fake Beer Ranking (Happôshu)

Updated: Aug 27, 2021

What is Japanese Fake Beer | Happôshu Taste Test

Top 10 Japanese fake beers, aka Happoshu, aka The Third Beer, standing on a table in a Japanese park in front of an ancient storage house.

The selection of beers in Japan – like most other commodities – is immense. Not only that, the rapid changes of seasonal and limited tastes are so many that only the most dedicated beer-nerds can conquer them all.

As vast as the assortment of beers is, the most sold alcoholic beverage in Japan is beer look-alikes, or rather beer «taste-alikes». The question is, are these fake beers worth wasting your taste buds on? Husky Loves Japan has tested 10 of the most popular fake beers on the market.

The Fakeful Eight | Japanese Fake Beer Taste Test on YouTube

This blog post is actually the bonus content for our taste test on YouTube. But wait; there is lots of exclusive content to be read below. For instance, you’ll find quick reviews of two interesting fake beers that were not featured in the video.

Further down you will also find our top 10 list of all the fake beers we tried. But first, have a look at our clip on YouTube. Please excuse the sub-par sound quality. It is not terrible, but rest assured, we will invest in a proper microphone as soon as our budget allows.

What is «Happôshu» and «The Third Beer»?

«Happôshu» is the original name for beer-like beverages in Japan with a lower malt content than 67%. The term emerged in the mid-90s, but the regulation for taxation of beer has since changed. «The Third Beer» is a term describing beer-like products that are made by using malt-alternatives.

Today, the tax rates on beer and so-called «Happôshu» are getting closer and closer. This has resulted in many breweries shutting down their production of low-malt, beer-like beverages. Instead, they look for other ingredients to create brews that do not fall under the beer-categorization.

Two cans of Japanese fake beer, aka Happoshu, aka The Third Beer, lying in the grass.
We just couldn't get enough. These two fake beers took us by surprice.

Two Japanese Fake Beer Examples | Sapporo White Belg & Seiyu Awa-Mugi

The Korean fake beer called «Awa-Mugi» is surprisingly characteristic. Out of the ten brews we tried, this was the only one with a distinct hoppy flavor. It is a great option for IPA-fans with a shortage of beer-funds.

White Belg from Sapporo Breweries also stands out among the lot. Even though it is supposed to be inspired by Belgian wheat beer, it has a distinct flavor that reminds ever so slightly about a darker brew.

Both these fake beers are recommended if you want to get your drink-on, without killing your budget. Read on and find out how they did when compared to the eight other fake beers we tasted:

Top 10 Japanese Fake Beers

  1. Mugi to Hoppu – Sapporo (8/10)

  2. Hon-Kirin – Kirin (7,5/10)

  3. Awa-Mugi – Seiyu (7,5/10)

  4. The Rich – Asahi (7,5/10)

  5. Clear Rich – Suntory (7/10)

  6. White Belg – Sapporo (7/10)

  7. Rich Malt – Suntory (7/10)

  8. Gold Star – Sapporo (6/10)

  9. Clear Asahi – Asahi (5/10)

  10. Nodogoshi – Kirin (2/10)

This list is not especially objective, which is underlined by the rather big difference in opinions between Husky and Onigunsô. Here is the list of her top 10 Japanese fake beers:

1. Hon-Kirin – Kirin (8/10)

2. White Belg – Sapporo (7.5/10)

3. Clear Rich – Suntory (7/10)

4. The Rich – Asahi (6.8/10)

5. Awa-Mugi – Seiyu (6.5/10)

6. Mugi to Hoppu – (6.2/10)

7. Kin-Mugi (Rich Malt) – Suntory (6/10)

8. Gold Star – Sapporo (5.5/10)

9. Clear Asahi – Asahi (3/10)

10. Nodogoshi – Kirin (2/10)

There you have it. Most of these fake beers are not bad when considering the price. That being said, none of them compares to real beer, and especially not to craft beer. If your favorite beer is Budweiser or Heineken, however, you’ll probably be very satisfied with these beer-like beverages. Kampai!!!

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