Tustin Head Brewer Talks Beer, Food, and Family as Anniversary Approaches

Tustin Brewing Co. owner Jason Jeralds, left, with brewers Matt Johnson, Jonathan Porter, Jerrod Larsen. Photo credit: Charlie Perez

I’ve mentioned Jerrod Larsen, head hrewer at Tustin Brewing Co., and the brewpub itself many times in the past without a post featuring them. The no-fuss, easy-going brewpub is set to celebrate its 23rd year of operation on Aug. 25. It’s going to be a great party, and tickets are going fast!

Can’t make it to the party? There’s always next year. Or tomorrow. Looking for a sports bar, a family-friendly eatery, a brewpub with good beer and filling grub, or just want to put your foot on the rail and have a cocktail? You got it.

Starting as an apprentice in 2011, Larsen has since taken the lead on the brew deck and has become one of Orange County’s most respected brewers. A family man and all-around nice guy, he’ll be the first to admit there is always more to learn from others in the beer community.

For the anniversary, he brewed a special IPA that features amazing aromatics and flavors from the use of Southern Hemisphere hops Ella (Australia) and Nelson Sauvin (New Zealand). Think white flowers with tropical fruit and a bit of spice. This beer was brewed on Larsen’s birthday with two former TBC brewers alongside! Matt Johnson, now brewmaster at Karl Strauss, and Jonathan Porter, master of all things at Smog City, joined Larsen to reminisce on their old stomping grounds. Larsen also brewed a double IPA with one of his best friends and award-winning homebrewer Ryan Holt as a pro-am beer for the coming Great American Beer Festival.

Tustin Brewing Co. head brewer Jerrod Larsen and award-winning home brewer Ryan Holt. Photo credit: Tustin Brewing Co.

After those two brews were in the books, I had the chance to sit down with Larsen. I brought him a nice cigar as a gift, so we both lit up our cigars and sat outside on TBC’s patio for a casual conversation.

Charlie Perez: “How cool was it to have those guys over to brew on your birthday?”

Jerrod Larsen: “It was a blast, man! It was great having them here. Always fun to bounce ideas of my pals like them.”

CP: “Are you a fan of collaborations?”

JL: “Yeah. I’m always learning, and I find those are some of the best opportunities to learn, from my peers. I mean, I’m not going to claim to know everything or know all the tricks. I learn a lot from collabs, and I try to apply what I can on my system.”

CP: “Any breweries you’d like to maybe one day collab with?”

JL: “Thorn. Gravity Heights. El Segundo. pFriem. So many! Those are only some of the first that come to mind. It would be a great learning experience.”

CP: “What are you most interested in learning?”

JL: “Water chemistry at the moment. I’ll admit, that’s where I have the least amount of experience with. I use some chemistry here for my system, and I work with what I got, but I love to learn more.”

CP: “Do you have a one-off or non-staple beer you’d like to make again?”

JL: “The 20th anniversary IPA is at the top for my favorite hoppy one-off. For non-hoppy, Kentucky Hug (bourbon barrel-aged stout) for sure is at the top of that list.”

CP: “What is your least favorite and go-to beer style?”

JL: “Well, this may surprise a bunch of people, especially the beer nerds, but I’m not a fan of the Belgian quad. My go to is a German pils. I could drink a good pils every day.”

CP: “Do you have a food and TBC beer recommendation?”

JL: “The short-rib tacos with our pale. Or the brewer’s tacos, when those come back, with pale. I hope those tacos come back. They were really good (fingers crossed).”

CP: “If you could have a beer with anyone, alive or not, famous or not, who would that be?” (Larsen’s answer to this question is why I am honored to not only call him a colleague, but also a friend.)

JL: “My grandpa Robert. He died when I was in my early 20s. So many great stories about him; I wish I could hang out with him now that I’m a grown, mature man.”

Tustin Brewing Co.
13011 Newport Ave.

Editor’s note: Charlie Perez is an Advanced Cicerone® who covers the Orange County beer scene for the Booze Blog.

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