Japanese beer companies are making beer out of peas and soy beans. They don’t taste as good as beer made with malted barley so why do they do it?
According to BeverageDaily.com it’s about tax. When the Japanese government decided to tax beer it defined it in terms of its malt content. Beers which contain less than 67% malt are classified as “happoshu” and are taxed at ¥47 yen a can. Beer-like drinks which contain no malt are taxed at ¥25 a can. The first of these "third category" beers was Sapporo’s Draft One. Within a year Sapporo sold 18.15 million cases. This month, Asahi will launch its category three beer, Shin-Nama and Kirin, will launch a product called Nodogoshi Nama.
Draft One is made using peas. Asahi’s and Kirin’s products are made with soy proteins. Beer connoisseurs argue that the brews don’t taste as good as those made with malted barley. But company spokesmen refuse to concede that the product is inferior. Sapporo marketing manager Naoki Hayashi says that Draft One is a good choice for "housewives having a tea party. They can drink Draft One instead of tea.”
If beer drinkers continue to switch to these low tax beers then Japan’s finance ministry is likely to raise the tax.