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Humboldt Brewery

Larry Lesterud, Humboldt Brewery Brewmaster

WB: How did you become a brewer?

LL: I became a brewer because I didn't want to be like many people I know who live for the weekend and loathe their job during the week. To truly enjoy life you have to love what you are doing for a living, not just pray you can make it to Friday. I began as a home-brewer and after becoming bored with my job at an environmental laboratory, I begged a local brewery for a job and eventually convinced them I was worth a shot. Since then I have taken professional courses at UC Davis and have become a member of the American Brewers Guild as a Brewer/Mentor, teaching students the practical aspects of the trade. I am also a technical reviewer and contributor to Brew Your Own and Brewpub magazines. Presently I am Head Brewer for Humboldt Brewing Co.

WB:What is your brewing philosophy? What keeps you and your brewers inspired?

LL: I don't know that we have a "brewing philosophy" so to speak. But again, if you don't love what you're doing, why do it? When I started at Humboldt, we only had a couple of brands and now our portfolio has blossomed. We have had an opportunity to be creative and develop several new brands, as well as specialty brews for our pub and local market. Right now, we have eleven different brews on tap in our pub. Our newest we call the "Muddy Mocha Porter," which has coffee and bakers chocolate in the recipe. Having the opportunity to do things like this on a whim is what keeps our interest in the brewhouse.

WB:What do you think the significant microbrewing trends will be in the upcoming years?

LL: The most significant trend I see in microbrewing is mainstreaming. We are already seeing microbrews placed in situation comedies on television and in movies. Micros are now in most better restaurants and bars throughout the country. Mainstreaming doesn't mean a dilution of quality by any means, but the mass market is finally becoming aware that beer isn't just for guzzling in the frat house and after work in the shop. Beer will always have it's blue collar base, but people are discovering that you can be sophisticated with a beer, that you can cook with it and that you can accompany meals with it other than the backyard barbeque.

WB: What is your favorite beer and food combination?

LL: A blue-collar meal of lamb chops or steak, rosemary and garlic potatoes and a pale ale. Humboldt Pale is my favorite, but Sierra Nevada or any one you prefer will work too.

Interviewed by Will Blunt.


Red Nectar Ale - Gold Medal, 1999 Great American Beer Festival (Amber Ale Category).

Oatmeal Stout - Bronze Medal, 1998 Great American Beer Festival (Oatmeal Stout Category).



Humboldt is located on the Northwest coast of California, 270 miles north of San Francisco. The original Humboldt Brewing Co. was established in 1854 in Eureka, California. It remained in operation until 1940, excluding the years of prohibition. In 1987 Humboldt Brewing Company was reopened as a brewpub. In 1993, as a result of popular response to the beer, the brewery operation was expanded. Its beers are available throughout the Pacific Northwest, as well as in Colorado. Contact: 865 10th Street Arcata, CA 95521 (707) 826-1734.