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STAN GROSSFELD

Just call Kevin Youkilis ‘the Greek god of hops’

Kevin Youkilis shows off Loma Brewing Company’s nine varieties of craft beer at his brewpub in Los Gatos, Calif.
Kevin Youkilis shows off Loma Brewing Company’s nine varieties of craft beer at his brewpub in Los Gatos, Calif.Stan Grossfeld/Globe Staff/Globe Staff

LOS GATOS, Calif. — Without spilling a drop, the owner of Loma Brewing Company delivers a tray of nine craft beers to the table.

Amidst the gleaming tanks, stylish bar, and hip West Coast menu, there is zero Red Sox memorabilia. No framed Kevin Youkilis uniforms or photos of the Red Sox Hall of Famer jumping into the pig pile while winning two World Series. No cutouts of his crazy batting stance with the bat coiled toward the center-field bleachers and the fingers creeping dangerously toward the barrel. No YOOOUUUCK chants at the bar, either.

“That’s my past life. And you know I’m not a baseball player anymore,” says Youkilis, who retired in 2013 with a .281 career batting average, 150 home runs, and a Gold Glove at first base.

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“It’s a gimmick,” says the three-time All Star. “And I don’t want this place to be a gimmick.”

It’s high noon and Youkilis sits down to taste-test each brew and talk beer, baseball, and the Brady bunch.

Now 40, he looks the same as he did when he legged out a triple in his last at-bat for the Red Sox in 2012. But now when he talks about hops, he doesn’t mean bounces.

Youkilis was immortalized as the “Greek god of walks” in the book “Moneyball.” It was a nickname given to him by Oakland A’s vice president of baseball operations Billy Beane for Youkilis’s on-base percentage and Greek-sounding name. Now the Jewish kid from Cincinnati is having fun with the moniker.

Leading off is the “Greek God of Hops” — a double IPA with floral, pine, and lemon hop aromas and a dry bitter finish.

He takes a big sip.

“Problem is it’s so smooth for a double IPA that you don’t think it’s a double IPA,” says Youkilis. “This one is 9 percent alcohol. It will get you in trouble.”

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If needed, there’s a Loma Coffee Bar in the back room and fresh Ethiopian beans to crush.

Batting second is “Youks Kolsch,” a hybrid of ale and a lager that’s named after family members who were bootleggers in Ohio.

“They went up to Toronto and ran the illegal alcohol down to Cincinnati. So we kind of paid homage to the family for doing it illegally, but now we’re doing it legally.”

Next up is the “Oktoberfest,” a Marzen type (traditionally brewed in March) German beer. Youkilis only takes one sip of each beer.

Kevin Youkilis stays on top of all of his craft beers, each uniquely named by the former Red Sox star.
Kevin Youkilis stays on top of all of his craft beers, each uniquely named by the former Red Sox star.Stan Grossfeld/Globe Staff/Globe Staff

He’s not on a pitch count, but he says he can’t drink like he did in college. He returned to the University of Cincinnati and completed his business degree last year. He says he did it for his three kids.

“Once you start something, you’ve got to finish it,” he says. “I got a degree and now and forever I’m in the alumni association. That’s cool.”

Batting cleanup is the “Hefeweizen,” which literally translates to wheat beer with yeast. This one is spiced with mostly clove and banana.

“It’s kind of a funny name, but this one’s a great beer,” he says.

Concern for youth

What really drives Youkilis bananas is the specialization of youth sports and the unrealistic expectations of parents against long odds.

“The biggest problem we have right now is youth sports has become a multibillion-dollar business. The burnout rate is going up, kids are quitting earlier than ever. Tommy John surgery has gone up 300 percent. And that’s a problem,” he says.

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Youkilis is also concerned that 13-year-olds now worry about their exit velocities and other sabermetrics.

“We’re not letting kids just go out and have fun. We’re helicopter parenting. We’re trying to control everything,” he says.

Youkilis says his dad built him a wooden batting cage in the backyard but never made him hit. “He never said, ‘Hey you got to take 100 swings today.’ ”

He also regrets that he doesn’t see kids playing Wiffle ball much anymore.

“The Wiffle ball moves way crazier than a baseball, so you build eye-hand coordination and a love for the game.

Up next is the “Big Sabroski,” a hazy pale ale named after the movie “The Big Lebowski” — one of Youkilis’s favorites.

“It’s super fruity, almost like a tangerine and grapefruit juice,” he says.

Kevin Youkilis hard at work at his Loma Brewing Company.
Kevin Youkilis hard at work at his Loma Brewing Company. Stan Grossfeld/Globe Staff/Globe Staff

Talk turns to the Hall of Fame selection, which will drive anyone to drink.

It bothers him that Pete Rose, his boyhood hero, banned from baseball for life for gambling, is not included in the Hall of Fame, which includes players from the Amphetamine era.

“Yeah. I think everybody should be in the Hall of Fame if they were great,” he says.

Steroids or no steroids.

“It’s a museum,” he says. “You can always put them in a wing that is different.”

Youkilis says that he never did steroids.

“Steroids don’t make you a major league baseball player because I played with guys in the minor leagues that did steroids. They never made the major leagues. You’ve got to be a super talent like Barry Bonds and Manny [Ramirez] and all those guys. And yes, it does help . . . ”

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He also defends Ramirez, who put up Hall of Fame numbers in Boston before forcing a trade to the Dodgers in 2008.

“We would not have won in ’04 and ’07 without him,” he says. “I watched everything about that guy. And if I didn’t have that guy as a teammate I don’t think I would’ve been the player I was.”

He downplayed his June 5, 2008, scuffle with Ramirez in the Red Sox dugout.

“People get into it, you know? Some of the best teams I ever played on were not the most healthy as a group, right?” he says. “You don’t have to be best friends, but you have to respect each other and play as a team when those lights go on and that first pitch is thrown.”

Next up is the “Jew-Jitsu,” a hazy IPA.

“So this is named after me being a Jewish guy and I actually do Jiu-Jitsu,” after suffering yet another herniated disk.

“I’m still paying for the price of baseball, but it was worth it in the end,” he says. “So this is our staple hazy IPA. Being from Boston, everyone’s drawing a hazy IPA is now. It’s just a New England thing.”

Catching up with Ortiz

Youkilis says he visited David Ortiz in August and they had grilled steaks.

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“I was dying to see him. I just wanted to give him a big hug and see how he’s doing,” he says. “But, yeah, he’s doing great. It’s crazy what life can bring at times.”

Next up is “Appeasement,” an IPA with modern American hops, blueberry notes, and stone fruit hop flavors. In 2017, it won the American India Pale Ale category at the California State Fair and Loma was chosen the 2017 California Commercial Beer Brewery of the year.

“This put us on the map,” says Youkilis.

“My wife [Tom Brady’s sister, Julie], who never really drank IPA, she likes this IPA.”

Youkilis says he loves being in the Brady bunch. He has even played catch with TB12 twice.

In 2013, he and his family stayed at Brady’s Los Angeles house while awaiting season-ending surgery to repair a herniated disk suffered during his brief stint with the Yankees.

“So Tom was like, ‘Hey, do you want to catch some balls?’ He gave me these gloves that are sticky. He’d start throwing the ball and I was just like, ‘Man, this is fun to kind of see how an NFL quarterback throws the ball and puts a little bit on it.’

“He’s joking around. He’s like, ‘Damn. You’ve got pretty good hands. You might have the best hands on the team next to Gronk.’ I was like, ‘Oh my God.’ It’s funny— Gronk came over that night to have dinner.”

When Brady was suspended in 2015, they worked out together at Los Gatos High School.

“He works his butt off and that’s what I respect most about him,” says Youkilis. “He’s willing to sacrifice everything — you know, hanging out, partying, drinking all that stuff — for the betterment of his career.”

Youkilis says that he was at a family event in Montana when the Brady bunch decided to have a race.

“I was like, ‘This family is way too competitive and I think I could smoke them all.’ So I just book it and I win,” he says. “My mother-in-law was laughing and cheering and she’s like, ‘I watched you play baseball, I knew you’re so fast.’ And I was like, ‘I never heard that.’

“I mean I ran well and David [Ortiz] always complimented me. I would always score from first for him when he hit the ball to left-center field. I studied the base paths. I really, really worked on it a lot.”

Brady and Youkilis also competed in Ping-Pong, pool, and golf.

“He’s got the same competitive juices I have. It gets heated and fun, but at the end of it everyone gets along,” he says. “Tommy definitely wins in golf. He is a better golfer than me.”

Fans visit brewery

Next to last is the “Red Rye Ale.”

“It’s hard to make the rye when you put it in the mash, it gets rough and gooey,” says Youkilis. “So it takes a lot of work.”

He says fans come to the brewery to meet him and tell him they wish he were still playing third base.

He tells them that [current Red Sox third baseman Rafael] Devers is special.

“I remember watching him a couple years back and I was like, ‘Oh, this guy can hit.’ He’s just a puppy. He’s still so young. You’ve got a great third baseman there for a long time, so they’re going to hopefully lock him up for a while,” he says.

Youkilis says the Sox have got to sign Mookie Betts.

“I told that to [Red Sox president and CEO] Sam [Kennedy],” he says.

Last, but not least is the “Oatmeal Stout.”

“I love this. That’s a beer you drink in the winter. Dark beers are usually wintertime beers,” he says.

Kevin Youkilis salutes the fans after tripling in his final at bat with the Red Sox. Lifted for a pinch runner, Youkilis was given a standing ovation.
Kevin Youkilis salutes the fans after tripling in his final at bat with the Red Sox. Lifted for a pinch runner, Youkilis was given a standing ovation. File/Yoon S. Byun/Globe Staff

Youkilis says he will always appreciate the sendoff Red Sox fans gave him on June 24, 2012. With a trade to the White Sox pending, he tripled to right-center and was pinch-run for by Nick Punto. The Fenway Faithful gave him a standing ovation and then demanded a curtain call.

“That was a good sendoff,” says Youkilis. “Behind the scenes, it was rough. It was tough on my family. My wife was 7½ months pregnant and I got traded to a place where I saw her for one week and I didn’t see her for two months until my child was born.

The trade hurt him.

“I didn’t feel like the organization in a lot of ways cared about me as much as I cared about them,” he says.

Youkilis played for the White Sox in 2012, the Yankees in 2013, and in Japan briefly in 2014.

“There’s still people that hate me because I went to the Yankees and I think it’s funny because [they’re] the same ones that were asking to trade me on WEEI. So you know you can’t have it both ways,” he says.

He admits it was weird at first to wear the Yankee pinstripes. “Yeah it looks slimmer, but it’s funny,” he says. “No one ever talks about my pinstripes for the White Sox.”

Youkilis still goes to spring training as a special adviser for Theo Epstein’s Cubs.

“I throw BP, hit fungoes, and try to just be another set of eyes and ears to the players and coaches,” he says.

But his heart will always be in Boston. Youkilis last week made a public request to the craft beer community to raise a pint on Friday in honor of Peter Frates.

Frates, the former Boston College baseball player whose eight-year battle with ALS helped make the ice bucket challenge a national phenomenon, died last Monday at age 34. His funeral was Friday.

At Boston-based Harpoon and Sam Adams, $1 was donated by the breweries for every pint sold to ALS research and awareness. Youkilis also tweeted, “Let’s keep the fight going to find a cure by donating to peterfrates.com/donate.”

Grateful for the fans

“You know, I didn’t have an easy path,” says Youkilis of his early days in the majors. “I didn’t play every day until I was 27 years old.”

Boston fans loved his passion. “What I’m most grateful for is the fans to this day still are super appreciative of everything I did,” he says.

He’ll never have to buy a beer in Boston.

“Yeah,” he says hoisting a glass. “I just bring them with me.”


Stan Grossfeld can be reached at Grossfeld@globe.com.