I can’t believe I lived in Japan for ten years and am just now discovering Hoppy.
I had seen Hoppy around over the years and had always just assumed it was another low-end beer, kind of like Sapporo’s Drafty. Recently while exploring local ramen shops in Gotanda, however, the master asked if I wanted to exchange my beer ticket for a beer or Hoppy. “Or”? I figured I better try the Hoppy.
It turns out Hoppy is a low-alcohol carbonated beer-flavored concoction for mixing with shochu. I’m told that Hoppy was the working man’s alternative to beer some fifty years ago, back when beer was still too expensive for the average Japanese. Why pay for beer when you can have beer-flavored shochu?
Surprisingly, Hoppy is not too bad. It tastes somewhat like a weak beer, though thanks to the liberal amounts of shochu it is most often mixed with, is a deceptively strong drink. That said, since shochu doesn’t give me a hangover like beer, and adds only 10 calories per 100 millimeters, Hoppy may a new standby for the prerequisite beer pounding during trips back to Tokyo.