I first learned of Scottish-themed brewpub Fourpenny House (8323 La Mesa Boulevard, La Mesa) in early 2017, when the individual who was originally selected to be the then work-in-progress business’ head brewer spent a few brew days with my co-workers at Societe Brewing. Though he eventually departed to take a head-brewer job in Vietnam, my colleagues and I remained interested in the project. For me, the originality of a pub celebrating Scotland and its beer culture was extremely intriguing. Nothing like that exists in San Diego County and it’s rare not to know exactly what to expect from a venue. I was eager to visit. There was only one condition for me—house beer needed to be on tap. That meant waiting longer than I wanted, but this week Fourpenny House had a coming-out party of sorts for industry folks, so I charted a course to La Mesa.
Nestled within the city’s quaint but rapidly evolving Village area, Fourpenny House shares a commercial stretch of La Mesa Boulevard with restaurants, mom-and-pop retail spots and antique shops. Approaching the pub, it’s easy to mistake it for the latter as its waiting area is on-theme with the venue’s down-home, rustic Scottish public house, featuring old-time chairs and a fireplace. Homey comfort extends to the dining room area, with large four-to-six seater booths along the right wall, and a communal high-top front and center. The bar and kitchen areas share the left side of the room and are topped with salvaged wood-framed windowpanes running the length of the area.
The night I visited, one house beer was available, the flagship Fourpenny Ale. Whereas most namesake offerings are blondes, pale ales, IPAs or, these days, mild lagers, Fourpenny Ale is a 6.1% ABV (alcohol-by-volume) Scottish ale. Being such a malt-forward, low-hop style, it’s one of the least-produced types of beer in San Diego County, but sitting in Fourpenny’s purposely dim, homey and altogether Scottish environs, sipping from an imperial pint glass and relishing in this beer’s medley of caramel, toffee and dark-fruit flavors, one can suddenly understand what a shame that is. While simple and not as fine-tuned as it will eventually be—head brewer Davey Landeros is still tweaking the recipe as he dials in Fourpenny’s two-and-a-half-barrel system—it left me excited to taste what will come next.
According to Landeros (who previously worked at Brew Rebellion in San Bernardino), once Fourpenny Ale is right where he and owner Peter Soutowood want it, he will proceed with crafting the rest of the pub’s core line-up, which will include a rye pale ale with sage, juniper and lemongrass, a coffee milk stout made with freshly-roasted chicory root and a “Scottish blonde” with chamomile and lemon zest. Dubbed Beatrix Blonde, that last one was recently introduced and, like all the house beers that have been put on so far, it quickly tapped out. Fortunately, Fourpenny House features numerous guest beers on-tap and in bottles, as well as a full bar complete with craft cocktails. Landeros is actually looking forward to brewing beers specifically for use in designing beer-tails, as well as incorporating spirits and liqueurs into his beers.
‘Cross-the-pond authenticity can also be found on the food menu, where beer-dipped chips and curry sauce, and, of course, a sausage-encrusted Scottish egg make up the starters, while fish and chips, roasted Scottish salmon and a banger-topped flatbread highlight the mains. A traditional Sunday roast takes place each weekend starting at 1 p.m., with varied proteins including leg of lamb, and home-style sides. It feels right at home at this welcoming spot, just as this welcoming spot feels perfectly at home in the historic heart of La Mesa.