Interview: as told by Emily Kitts, part-owner
How did you come to open the Naughty Oak Brewing Co?
The brewery was Steve’s [my husband] dream and brainchild. He has worked at Vandenberg in satellite operations since about 2003, and took up home brewing as a hobby with our next door neighbor about 6 years ago. He immediately loved everything about the brewing process and decided that he wanted to do it full time. He really yearned to have a career where he was working with his hands, and creating something tangible after so many years of working in front of a computer screen. So in 2016, we both left our full-time jobs and dove in!
What do you love most about running your business?
The thing that brings us the most joy is to see that the brewery is a place that people want to gather. We’re so incredibly happy to see that the community sees it as a welcoming place where they can relax, catch up or make new friends. Watching our team come together as a community is another huge part of that. We are so lucky to have such great people working with us; and it makes us so happy to see the Naughty Oak crew get together after hours, or meet up at the brewery on their off time.
How does creativity play into your company?
Steve is always trying new flavor combinations, recipes, and ingredients. We have 12 beers on tap all the time, and only about 5 of them are permanent, so he’s constantly brainstorming for the next seasonal beer, new recipe, or beer name. Naming the beers usually is one of the hardest parts. We are really lucky to have a team of creative minds helping us with all of the other taproom details. My sister-in-law, Andrea Rockwell, is our graphic artist and is responsible for all our logos, branding, and labels. She can turn our vague, half-thought-out ideas into something amazing.
My parents are also a huge part of the taproom’s creativity. They are responsible for most of the art in the brewery. My mom, Janis Rockwell, does all our signage for our beers on tap, and she also did the squirrel mural. She and my dad are constantly building something for the brewery, whether it’s a welding project, woodworking, carving, or painting. They are an incredible mix of creative and engineering brain power and talent.
Are there other areas where you exercise creativity?
My career (Emily’s) prior to opening the brewery was jewelry-making, so I still get to do small jewelry projects on the side. I also really enjoy the batik process, so I like to play with that. I’ve dabbled with batiks on cotton, but my favorite is Pysanky (Ukrainian batik eggs). Lately thought I’ve been really intrigued by embroidery. Maybe that will be next for me!
If you’re local on the Central Coast, stop in to the Naughty Oak Brewing Co, or check them out on social media!