Kevin Youkilis—yes, he of Red Sox, Yankees and White Sox provenance—has a new, post-baseball role: brewery owner. He and brother Scott Youkilis plan to open Loma Brewing Company in Los Gatos, California, later this summer. Former Heretic Brewing Co. brewer Warren Billups is behind the house beers, which will occupy about half of the 14 taps in the brewpub; Scott has been in the restaurant business for 25 years (he owns Hog & Rock, Maverick and Hi-Lo BBQ in San Francisco) and will oversee operations. And Kevin? “I’ll be more into the brand, the beer, and the events, and trying to be a part of the community and getting our word out.”
Kevin says he discovered an interest in beer after college, during his time playing professional baseball. “The beer you’re drinking changes once you can afford better beer,” he says. “I realized there was really good beer out there created by smaller-producing individuals. What I loved the most was I realized I didn’t have to drink 10 beers to enjoy a night out. A couple well-made beers was more my style.”
Now living in Los Gatos and already a minor investor in some of his brother’s restaurants, Kevin felt it was time for him and Scott to open a brewpub in town. “The area was on a slower pace compared to San Francisco and Oakland in the craft beer world,” says Scott. Kevin adds that Los Gatos has its own downtown that attracts the young professional families living there who don’t have the time to head into San Fran every weekend for beer.
“Los Gatos is home to Manresa and there are a lot of other upscale, top-dollar places,” Kevin says. “We just want to be a place that’s middle-of-the-road, but offers high quality food and beer and cocktails. We’re fortunate that we have a larger set-up so we can embrace groups of people whereas other restaurants are smaller.” The brewpub, which plans to open in a few months, is a 7,000-square-foot space with 75 bar-area seats and seating for 75 more in the dining room, as well as a private events space.
Beer-wise, the brothers say they’re aiming for approachable and well executed styles that aren’t “too niche.” That means a starting core of a pilsner, an American pale ale, a dry stout and a kölsch, plus a seasonal IPA and a Berliner weisse. A pilot system may produce some one-offs and will serve as a test system to see what drinkers would like next.
“We’re just opening, we’re not set in our ways,” Kevin says. “We’re open to what people want; we’re not going to say ‘This is our pale ale and that’s it.’”
So, Kevin’s gone from the baseball field to the brewpub. Are there any applicable lessons learned on the diamond that apply to this new career? “They’re definitely two different worlds. Baseball isn’t reality,” he says. “The great thing about opening a business is that I finally understand the other side, the real world. I’ve been stressed out by both careers, but they also both bring a lot of joy.”