Hoppy is a non-alcoholic beverage in Japan that tastes like beer. It's been around since 1948, and was popularized as a cheap way to get drunk. How does one get drunk off of non-alcoholic beer, you ask? Add it to shochu, of course!!! (Shochu is the closest thing to vodka they make in Japan).

Trust me, I don't get it either. They pour like 2 parts Hoppy to 1 part shochu in these big frosted mugs. For whatever reason, people had a really hard time trying to explain the concept of Hoppy to me- they refused to call it "non-alcoholic beer" and kept telling me it was healthy. Uhhhh...

The Hoppy/Shochu combination was touted as a really skeezy, Shinjuku alleyway kind of drink, but it seems to be making a comeback as young folks in Tokyo are drinking it at hip izakayas now.

So the next time you want a beer-tasting vodka-like drink, give this a whirl!!!


  • love hoppy! just love that showa-era aesthetic. sigh i miss oyajis at ghetto standing bars.

    kiwa on

  • i expected nothing less from you Marc. exactly the answers i was looking for. you are so awesome!!!

    i had the really dirt cheap/ high alcohol content malt beer, “happonshu” for the first time in japan. it gets such a bad wrap, but tasted totally fine. it’s so much cheaper than regular beer! drunk quicker too.

    good wiki page on Beer in Japan

    dude get this, it’s crazy (from wiki):
    “Beer is the most popular alcoholic drink in Japan, accounting for nearly two thirds of the 9 billion liters of alcohol consumed in 2006”

    Kiwa- you DO NOT miss he oyajis, they’re the worst!!!

    kayoko on

  • I didn’t think Hoppy was actually zero alcohol, but just very very low, like 1 or 2%. I think the whole reason it came about was postwar poverty. On the one hand, you had to make what little alcohol you had go further, so if you water down your homemade shochu with a bit of frothy beer-like substance, what ordinarily would take one day to drink might last a whole weekend.

    On the other hand – and this is just my supposition – it’s much cheaper to buy a low low low alcohol beer than higher-alcohol versions because booze is taxed according to the level of alcohol it’s got in it. The higher proof, the more you pay for it. Ever gone into a conbini or a grocery store and seen the gigantic range of beers available in Japan, all seemingly the same stuff with virtually the same taste? It’s all differentiated because of its alcohol content and what it’s made from – all malt, etc. That translates to cheaper or higher prices, and a bargain buzz.

    I first got turned onto the Hoppy / shochu combo in October in Tokyo – TOKYO GORE POLICE director Yoshihiro Nishimura loves the stuff, and kept pouring it down my throat while I was there. I tried some Hoppy on its own, and it’s like completely bland beer. But add it to cheap shochu….and magic!

    追放マーク on

  • That actually sounds right up my alley, since I’m not into beer but do like both shochu and vodka.

    Jennette on

  • Thanks for the link, and the flattery!

    I really wish I had the money or investor friends to move to Tokyo and start a microbrew pub. I think it’s sorely lacking in the city, and something a LOT of people would embrace. I’m amazed by the sheer number of different beers available there, yet their taste ranges across only about 3% of the possible flavor profiles. Even Japanese “dark” beer is basically just a black-colored lager. I’d love to be the one to educate Japanese palates about the varieties of good beers available in the world!

    追放マーク on

Leave a comment

Please note: comments must be approved before they are published