LOS GATOS (KPIX) – Kevin Youkilis made a name for himself on the East Coast as a two-time World Series champion with the Boston Red Sox. Now that he’s retired, the 38-year-old has carved out a new following on the West Coast, and he’s traded in his trophies for ribbons.
“I love competing,” Youkilis said. “It was a pretty big high.”
Youkilis is the co-owner of Loma Brewing Company in downtown Los Gatos which won brewery of the year at last summer’s state fair. Their IPA called Assumption earned a gold medal and is one ten beers they pour at the brewpub.
Youkilis solicited help from his brother Scott to help get Loma off the ground. Scott has worked in the Bay Area restaurant industry for almost two decades and currently owns Hog and Rocks in San Francisco.
Loma squeezes their production tanks in a 1,100 square foot space that sits footsteps from where patrons enjoy their suds from the bar and bites from the kitchen. Youkilis estimates they produced 600 barrels of beer last year with plans to increase production.
He’s the owner, but he’s far from a figurehead. A day-to-day for Youkilis includes anything from pouring beer to handling business meetings. It’s a welcomed trade-off from the grind of a 10-year major league career.
“I played for as long as I could, for as hard as I could, but my body couldn’t handle it anymore,” Youkilis said. “I’d be in the fetal position crying if I was on the road for seven days a week.”
Today it’s a different kind of grind – trying to build a business with almost no reference on the walls to the fame that he cultivated in Boston. He was the scrappy player, turned MVP candidate and was embraced immediately by fans in New England.
His brother-in-law is Tom Brady, but you wouldn’t know that either by looking around the pub.
“It’s not about my past career and who I was as a professional athlete,” he said. “It’s about the brand and the beer, and the staff we have here.”
About the only reference to baseball is the name of Loma’s double IPA called The Greek God of Hops which is a nod to his baseball nickname The Greek God of Walks.
“Finally I’m able to make some money on the Greek God of Walks thing,” he laughed.
Youkilis admits he’s still learning the nuances of the restaurant business, and that’s why he’s insulated himself with people who have years of experience. Dan Reineke was teammates with Youkilis at the University of Cincinnati and is now the general manager at Loma.
Reineke jumped into the restaurant industry out of college while Youkilis refining his palate in major league baseball.
“In Boston there was a liquor store called Marty’s and they had a huge craft beer selection, and I kept trying different things,” he recalled from his discovery of good beer. “It wasn’t whatever you drink in college – bottom of the barrel.”
What Loma brewmaster Warren Billups produces is hardly bottom of the barrel, just don’t ask Youkilis to name his favorite pint.
“I gotta have the dad attitude. I love all of our beers the same,” he said.
But when pressed, Youkilis has a pragmatic response.
“I love the pale ale because it’s lower in alcohol. I have three kids, two dogs and I have to get up in the morning,” he smiled. “Hangovers don’t work for me anymore in my life.”
Loma now has a footing after almost two years in Los Gatos, but Youkilis wants to expand the business and take his beer outside the state. The Greek God of Hops is hoping to become the Greek God of Distribution.
“That would be up there with winning the World Series,” he said.