Scottish brewery recreates Highland traditions

East County restaurateur looks to his Scottish heritage to create a unique dining experience for guests

Photo by Jewelyn Buduan. A Haste Ye Back to Scotland offers just the right amount of refreshing flavor, a gin drink with muddled blackberry, lemon and sage garnish. It is one of several Scottish-themed cocktails at Fourpenny House.
Photo by Jewelyn Buduan.
Fourpenny House fish and chips is accompanied by a dipping sauce and sizzled to perfection. Although it might struggle to compete with other fish and chips in East County, this plate is served with the full experienced of a Scottish pub, making it well-worth the try.

Like the sound of bagpipes rolling across the highlands or the wind whipping through heather on the moor, the cheer that pours out of the doors of the Fourpenny House in La Mesa is Scottish at heart.

Named for Fourpenny, Scotland, a crossroads north of Inverness, the Scottish brew house that opened in March 2018 is a unique addition to the landscape of East County’s pubs and eateries.

Peter Soutowood is the mind behind the makings of Fourpenny House, and the pub is imbibed with inspiration from his own family heritage. With a background in architecture, Soutowood said he wanted to provide more than good food and great beer – he wanted to provide an experience.

“I designed everything,” he said. “Even the books you see lying around are mine. The old photos on the wall are my family’s photos.”

Inside the pub, visitors will find an open kitchen layout where guests at the bar can watch cooks preparing orders as they come up and every surface of the restaurant from support columns to bar tables to booths are paneled in a dark wood.

The walls are covered with old family photographs that look to date from the turn of the century, paintings and carved scenes of medieval battles and a variety of other eye-catching whimsy. There is so much well-placed clutter around the pub that it actually feels like a genuine public house from the Old Country in a time long gone by.

If Soutowood’s inspiration for the pub was a dining experience, he has certainly set the scene well.

But Fourpenny House sports a fun menu as well. Though short, all items are distinctly British, from the bangers and mash to the fish and chips. There are vegetarian options as well, and a curry dipping sauce for the French Fries that should have its own floor show.

The cocktail menu is a delightful creation of Scottish themes and flavors mixed predominantly with Scottish alcohol.

But the main event is the brewery.

According to Soutowood, Fourpenny House is the only true Scottish brewery in the U.S.

When the doors opened in some eighteen months ago, the full restaurant hadn’t been outfitted yet and guests were mainly invited to come in to try the beer and share some laughs or some bread, which is made in-house with old Soutowood family recipes.

“We make a lot here,” said Soutowood. “We make our own shortbread. We make our own pickles.”

Soutowood also makes his own spiced chocolate cookies in the stone oven and will come out and serve them to customers in person from time to time and, quite frankly, they are the best food that comes out of the kitchen. He said bringing out warm cookies to his customers was part of his long-time dream of owning his own restaurant, but he likes to be spontaneous about it so guests are always surprised when he comes out with them.

It is evident that thought and care goes into every inch of Fourpenny House, from the foundations of the pub to the food to the friendly staff that bends over backwards to be accommodating. It is warm and inviting taste of Scotland and Scottish hospitality.