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The photo above, courtesy of the National Park Service website, was taken in 1915. It shows an ad that was displayed on the wall of the then-Mission Brewery at 1715 Hancock Street in the city of San Diego’s Middletown area. The ad was for Hopski, which the brewery had just introduced as a hop-based yet low-in-alcohol beverage. This was at a time when the temperance movement was growing across the country, and some brewers were trying to address it.

An article in the April 15, 1915 San Diego Union announced the debut of Hopski, which it called “A ‘jagless’ beer, guaranteed to cheer but not inebriate, and containing all the beneficial properties of malt and hops, even unto the foam and taste….”.

While made of malt and hops, Hopski was said to have “but one-fifth of one percent of alcohol,” which, according to brewery vice-president E. W. Handschy, “is less than that of many healthful foods…..That is why we guarantee it to be non-intoxicating.”

Ads in newspapers for the beverage prominently featured the frog (hops, hoppy, get it?) and the motto, “It’s Got the Pep.”

While clever, the ad campaign couldn’t save Hopski and the Mission Brewery from the prohibition wave. By 1918 the brewery had gone out of business. Beer would come back. Just not Hopski.

Sources: Historic San Diego newspapers and the National Park Service website (the former Mission Brewery building is on the National Register of Historic Places).

Wishing a Happy and Historically Safe Holiday to All!