At Cape May Brewing Company, we love our Coasties — we brewed Always Ready for them, after all — and, for the most part, they love us back.
“We’d actually been waiting to interview Colin for a number of months, as he reached out to us when he was still stationed with the Coast Guard in Washington state,” says Tasting Room General Manager Chris Costello. “He was looking for a fun post-Coast Guard job and we had just that. When he finally made it back to Cape May last month, it was obvious that Colin had a natural fit with our team. He brings a professional but fun attitude to the job, and any task asked of Colin, I know I can trust to be handled correctly. Furthermore, I’m looking forward to all the Coastie friends coming in to visit Colin.”
Welcome Colin Smith!
Colin’s father was a Coastie, as well, and they moved around quite a bit as Colin was growing up. He was in Cape May for sixth through eighth grades and attended Lower Cape May Regional High School for a year, but also lived in Florida for a spell.
However, Colin had spent almost eleven years in South Boston — thankfully, though, he never picked up the accent.
“Yep, from Southie,” he says. “So, that’s where I say I’m from, instead of giving the whole schpiel.”
While in the Coast Guard, Colin has had the chance to get quite a bit of schooling. He attended Roger Williams University in Bristol, Rhode Island, for public administration; he attended Boston University for his MSL in business leadership and is currently a doctoral candidate in organizational leadership from Northeastern University.
“For a kid that was gonna grow up scallop fishing, I didn’t do too bad,” he jokes.
Colin credits the Coast Guard with giving him many opportunities to expand his education. His commanding officers and mentors have always been very supportive of his continuing education.
“But it was not easy,” he says. “Being on a ship and trying to write a paper in the middle of the Pacific and trying to meet deadlines and fight bad guys was not easy at all. It was a different college experience, for sure.”
And Colin has definitely had the chance to fight some bad guys. While in the Coast Guard, he was part of a team that took $94M worth of cocaine off the streets.
“We caught a drug submarine, and it was just loaded with cocaine,” he says. “Pure, uncut cocaine. It was a 60-foot submarine, and they only gave the dudes driving it maybe 20 feet. They were sleeping with the engine. We put a big dent in the cartel that day.”
During his onboarding and orientation, Colin noted that Cape May Brewing Company puts much of what he’s studied into practice.
“Ryan was talking about all the stuff I nosedived into as a student,” he says, “servant leadership and transparency of information and all that stuff. I was like, ‘All right! For a barback position, I’m hearing some good stuff!’”
Eventually, Colin would like to get into academia, but that’s probably a long way off for him — he’s only one year into his six-year doctoral program.
Yet, Cape May Brewing Company is a place that Colin’s always wanted to work. He and his now-wife, Casey, came to our Tasting Room on one of their first dates back in 2012, buying one of our nautically-themed hats — a hat that has since gone around the world with him, to Panama, Costa Rica, Iceland, and Ireland, among other locations.
“As I progressed in my career with the Coast Guard,” he explains, “you guys began brewing Always Ready.”
When they returned to Cape May, Colin’s wife bought him one of our Always Ready hats from a few years ago — the one with the “scrambled eggs”: the leaf-shaped insignia designating an officer.
“Now I’m captain of the barbacks,” Colin jokes. “Officer of the keg rollers.”
Our Social Media and Design Alchemist Courtney Rosenberg has been friends with Colin’s wife Casey for years, and she brought a case of Always Ready with her to Boston a few years ago when she went to visit them.
“My friends and I instantly fell in love,” he says. “We were like, ‘Dude! We have a beer named after the Coast Guard, and it’s not just a Bud Light with a Coast Guard sticker on it?!? Someone put some heart and soul into it?!?’ So, I completely fell in love with the brewery.”
As Colin learned more about craft beer, he kept his eye on CMBC as he moved throughout the country. When he moved back to Cape May and retired from the Coast Guard — two weeks ago — on a whim, he checked out our Careers page to see if we were hiring, and, lo and behold, we were looking for help in the Tasting Room.
For a man who’d spent over twenty years in the military, being a barback in our Tasting Room was the perfect transition job for Colin.
“Until I figure out what I want to do with my life — if I want to do this or get a big-boy job — this is perfect. When Courtney delivered the beer, I told her that I was going to retire in a few years and come work here.”
Colin has tried his hand at homebrewing a few years ago, to little success.
“I made a pumpkin beer and a really heavy IPA,” he says. “The IPA came out way stronger than we wanted it to, and the pumpkin came out tasting like pumpkin with about .2% alcohol in it. We dared my buddy to drink all of it and he drank the whole gallon. It was pretty gnarly.”
A longtime Red Sox fan, Colin’s musical tastes are all over the place.
“I’m super eclectic,” he says. “I love music. From Wutang Clan to Demot Kennedy to Darlingside to Mos Def — I’m really all over the road with music.”
He says that he’s really been getting into his “new” 2018 Jeep Rubicon. Having lived in cities — or on boats — most of his life, this is the first time he’s purchased his own car.
“I finally own a car like an adult,” he laughs. “It’s been a lot of fun figuring out what I like to do with that thing: taking it offroading in Wildwood Crest or bumming around town with it.”
He’ll sometimes take along his yellow Lab, Chatham — named for a lighthouse at which he was once stationed at the “elbow” of Cape Cod.
“She’s great,” he says. “She’s got a big house, now, a big backyard. She’s lovin’ life.”
Colin is loving life in Cape May, as well. As all of the Coast Guard’s enlisted men and women go through TraCen Cape-May, many come back for visits.
“One of the reasons that I wanted to work here is because I know that a lot of Coasties come through here,” he says. “And we tend to gravitate back towards Cape May. There’s just nothing better than a cold beer with an old shipmate, telling sea stories. And now, I work in the place that makes the beer for the Coast Guard to tell sea stories. This has worked out perfectly.
Colin has always loved Cape May and is glad to be back, particularly considering that his wife is from Cape May and her family still lives here. As a kid, Colin and his family lived on the Coast Guard base for four years.
“My dad’s rule was that I could go anywhere on my bike, except I wasn’t allowed to cross any bridges,” he remembers. “As a young teenager, I kind of had my run of the island, and it was great. I have such great memories of Cape May.”
Being back, Colin has a different perspective on things: he appreciates the laid-backness of Cape May.
“I love the beach vibe,” he says. “Living in the city, it’s not that you have to dress a certain way, but any restaurant you go to here, you can wear shorts and flip-flops and it’s cool.”
And he’s looking forward to connecting with a lot of people and making a few friends as he works in the Tasting Room.
“I’m looking forward to helping the business grow,” he says. “You guys have grown so much, but I’m looking forward to being a member of that team.
“And I’ve heard that shifties are a super cool time,” he laughs. “I’m hoping they come back soon.”
We all are, Colin.
In all, Colin says that the culture at Cape May Brewing Company is exactly what he needs at this point in his life.
“It’s an excellent way to transition out of the military,” he says. “I’m good at taking orders and following rules, and I like that Ryan came in on our first day and said, ‘These are what my philosophies are, this is what my structure is.’ You kinda hear that and think, ‘Oh, okay,’ but you get here and you realize that he wasn’t joking. He’s created a culture here, and that’s what I need as I transition out of the military.
And, of course, Colin loves the fact that he has unfettered access to Always Ready. According to Colin, our pale ale has been a big hit with his shipmates.
“The people who know about it lose their minds over it,” he says. “I’ve only posted on Instagram maybe forty times, but five of them were Always Ready. It’s not well-known outside of the Delmar region, but when people come here and find out that we have a beer, it’s awesome.”
Colin is thrilled to be here, a place he’d always admired, as he tries to figure out who he is after the military.
“I joined when I was 18,” he says. “I know what I like, but I don’t really know who I am without the military, so I’m just kinda figuring that out.
“So far, I’m a pretty cool dude!”
We totally agree!
Be sure to say hello to Colin the next time you’re in the Tasting Room!