Don’t look now, but an area as old and sleepy as the antique shops that line it is getting really cool really quick. La Mesa’s old town Village Area—mostly known for fun only when Oktoberfest rolls around—has benefited from a big influx of modern and, dare we say, trendy eateries. And soon it will welcome its first-ever brewpub, Fourpenny House. Headed by a passionate owner who recently secured the services of a former brewer from San Bernardino’s Brew Rebellion, it will not only bring hyper-local beer to the area, but a Scottish theme, making it unlike any other fermentation operation in the county. We sat down with owner Peter Soutowood to get a better idea of what to expect.
What led you to establish a Scottish thematic for the brewpub?
My background is Scottish and I fell in love with the country, people and music the first time I went with my grandparents. Over the years I have made multiple trips, learned to play the bagpipes and visited the small towns of my ancestors. As a life-long baker and, more recently, a brewer, I was spending every spare moment in the past few years in the kitchen. Combined with my architecture career and a passion for creating spaces, I began to cast a critical eye at the restaurants and brewery tastings rooms in the area and knew I could make a truly unique space combining my love of flavor, my heritage and my design sense.
Other than beer and food, how will the Scottish concept be conveyed?
The walls will be lined with photos of my ancestors along with their stories of triumph and tragedy. Beside a hand-laid stone wall in the front of our space is a place for musicians, which will include Scottish and Irish sessions. On any random night you might find me playing my Scottish smallpipes or whistles there, as well! Our tartan pillows were hand-sewn by my mother, and our space will be filled with antiques and items of mine that represent the honest craftsmanship of a Scottish farmhouse. Our cocktail list includes Scottish-inspired drinks created by our Irish general manager, and even our beer utilizes a Scottish yeast strain. While we won’t have televisions, we will bring in a projector to show Scottish soccer and rugby. The team’s also looking for other ways to convey the brand, from Scottish afternoon tea to a whiskey trolley. We are all in for Scotland!
Where did you meet your head brewer?
I met Davey Landers at a Cicerone event in North Park in 2016. Over subsequent brewing sessions I began to see his incredible sense for flavors and creativity with beer. He has truly taken to heart the concept and key flavors of three of our flagship beers, and added a fourth unique creation which dovetails in neatly with our commitment to harvest.
What do you feel are the biggest opportunities and challenges to opening in La Mesa?
I see nothing but opportunities. La Mesa has quickly become the most desirable hip new scene in San Diego because of its quaint, walkable downtown, proximity to just about everything in the metro area within 15 minutes, and sunny mornings during June gloom! The other breweries in town have been able to keep locals who want good beer close, and the exploding food and drink scene in the La Mesa Village is good for everyone–customers and businesses alike.
Artistic expression inspires artistic expression, and it isn’t limited to visual and aural art. In the case of three alumni from San Diego State University’s Business of Craft Beer certificate program, a logo from one of their favorite bands inspired the name of their upcoming beer-making business. Specifically, the 13-point lightning bolt bisecting the skull in a classic Grateful Dead logo. It gave them the idea to name their interest 13 Point Brewing Company (8035 Broadway, Lemon Grove) because when visiting their tasting room, the owners want you to experience some of the feelings you would have at a Grateful Dead show. In their words, that equates to “a heartfelt, welcoming sense of community, great music and one hell of a good time.”
It was a more straightforward form of inspiration that launched the idea for 13 Point. Two of the company’s founders ended up in bar-stool conversation with employees from Ballast Point Brewing during the 2014 edition of San Diego Beer Week. After hearing about the brewers’ daily work, Bob Frank and Robert Bessone turned to each other and asked themselves why they weren’t crafting ales and lagers for a living. Fast-forward to present day and they’re in the process of constructing the first brewery ever sited within the city of Lemon Grove.
When asked why they selected uncharted territory, they say they look forward to benefiting from the press and attention of being the community’s first manufacturer of homegrown beer. They also cite being well received by both the City of Lemon Grove and the sheriff’s office. And because of the support of City staff in particular, who helped 13 Point’s ownership propose a legislative provision to City Council, the business will be able to sell cans, bottles and crowlers from their tasting room for off-site consumption.
Ownership says it will be anywhere from four to nine months before 13 Point opens its doors. When it does, the tasting room will provide an open view of the brewery, which will include a seven-barrel brewhouse with three fermenters. That setup will allow for production of roughly 1,000 barrels of beer per year, but they intend to regularly add fermentation vessels to eventually maximize output at 2,500 barrels annually. On the brewing front, drinkability will be the primary focus, even with larger beers like a vanilla porter called Ol’ Nessie, which will be brewed using whiskey-soaked vanilla beans.
From the Beer Writer: Some see beer as an artistic medium, while others view it as a platform for experimentation. Not surprisingly, the scientific minds at Miramar’s White Labs, the foremost manufacturer of yeast for beverage fermentation in the world, fall into the latter category. Last year, their on-site brewing team created something previously (and since) unheard of: a beer fermented using a whopping 96 different yeast strains. What could have come out tasting like a cacophony of competing characteristics tasted very nice fresh, with Belgian yeast varieties coming to the forefront with their bold, fruity, botanical attributes. Yesterday, White Labs released a version of the beer given even more complexity from extended aging in bourbon whiskey barrels. The result is Barrel-Aged Frankenstout, which features a downright lovely aroma reminiscent of dark chocolate truffles and rose petals. The chocolate carries through on the palate and is accompanied by vanilla and chicory, followed by an herbal feel in the finish. In the world of beer-based science projects, it doesn’t get much more exotic than this.
From the Scientist: “The team at White Labs was working on sequencing 96 of our yeast strains for a collaborative research project with Illumina, Synthetic Genomics and a team of scientists based in San Diego and Belgium. The goal was to understand the genetic diversity between strains (i.e., what makes WLP001 California Ale Yeast have such different flavor characteristics compared to WLP008 East Coast Ale Yeast), and some of these findings were later published via the scientific journal Cell in September 2016. Since these strains needed to be propped up in order to do a full sequencing run and fill 96 spots in a multi-well plate, we used the propped-up yeast to do a fun ‘experiment’ and look at what would happen if they were all used to ferment only one beer. Our team tried a few different prototypes before landing on the final recipe for Frankenstout, as they found that the malty backbone played really well with the complex and various flavors created by 96 different strains!”—Karen Fortmann, Senior Research Scientist, White Labs
From the Brewer: “Barrel-Aged Frankenstout rested for more than one year in second-use, bourbon oak barrels. During that time, the brewing team monitored the barrels on a regular basis until we finally landed on the perfect amount of oak and bourbon traits combined with Frankenstout. We found the flavors in Frankenstout really changed over time, and it also picked up a higher alcohol-by-volume (10.1%) from the time spent in barrels. Barrel-Aged Frankenstout carries vanilla, oak qualities and mild notes of bourbon, which pair well with the more subtle phenolics of the matured base beer.”—Joe Kurowski, Brewing Manager, White Labs
From the Beer Writer: I can be a tough judge of a brewery’s character and wares, but from the first time I visited El Cajon’s Burning Beard Brewing, I’ve been nothing but impressed with their ethos, environs and the liquid fruits of its brew crew’s labor. All of it melds and works together to deliver a concept that, while rather varied, remains easy to fall into, grasp and enjoy. It would seem others agree. In its first year in business, “The Beard” has become the darling of not only beer fans, but members of the local brewing community. This is particularly impressive given its East County location, far from the glitz of North Park and the brewery-dense Beeramar and Hop Highway communities. There are many contributing factors for that, but as it should be, the primary reason for Burning Beard’s popularity is its beers. This weekend’s first-anniversary festivities will feature bottles of one of those ales in oak-matured form: Burning Beard Barrel-Aged Panic at the Monastery. A 12.5% alcohol-by-volume, Belgian-style quad given extra character and booziness after time spent in bourbon whiskey barrels, it will be available to attendees at this sold-out affair. Don’t have tickets? Don’t panic! You still have a chance to get this low-yield, big-flavor rarity. Around 100 bottles will be held back to sell to the general public when The Beard’s doors open on Saturday, April 8.
From the Brewers: “Best served at 53 degrees, this unblended bourbon barrel-aged Belgian dark strong ale layers toasty, caramel and honey notes with the fruit and spice of Belgian yeast. The yeast imparts a subtle earthiness—an almost tobacco-like spice—just beneath hints of fig, dark plum and black currant, while the Woodford Reserve oak barrels elevate the dark-fruit character of the beer, adding a touch of cinnamon, cocoa, vanilla and just a bit of heat. It fits into our perona because Panic is dark, mysterious and strong like the Beard, and also because the Belgian quad fills in part of the other side of the beer-spectrum for us. We opened the doors highlighting our Normcore Pilsner and, one year later, we will celebrate by cracking open the beer on the other side of the mirror, Panic at the Monastery.”—Jeff Wiederkehr, Head Brewer & Co-Founder, Burning Beard Brewing Company