Profiles in brew: Eric Blythe of Collision Brewing Company

Brewing as a family affair

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Michael J. Casey

If you’re looking for Longmont’s newest brewery, you won’t find it operating out of a small garage in an industrial part of town or along Old Town’s main drag. To get there, you’ll probably have to drive (roughly five miles east of Old Town), and that’s fitting considering Collision Brewing Company is one of the few themed brewery/restaurants around, and the theme here is cars.

With a taillight for its logo, antique gas pumps out front and a lineup of brews with kinetic names, Collision Brewing is delightfully committed top to bottom. As owner Eric Blythe — a wiry man in his early 30s, with “BEER” tattooed on his knuckles — explains, the car theme comes from a shared passion between him and his father.

Blythe is also passionate about Longmont. The initial idea for Collision hatched about five years ago with Blythe looking at what was available in the surrounding area. As luck would have it, they found a perfect spot on Skyway Drive; ideal considering the family still owns and operates Nicolos Pizza over on Pace Street.

“We’ve been in this community forever,” Blythe says proudly. “We’re local. We’ve been local, and we’re staying local.”

And with a one-stop-shop mentality, Collision makes for an ideal family-dining destination. At least it’s a destination now. From Collision’s patio, Blythe points north across the highway to the newly built Smucker’s plant. That’ll be 500 jobs, he says, before turning west, where apartment complexes and condos are going up at a rapid pace.

“We’re in the middle of nowhere, but we’re in the middle of everything,” Blythe says with a smile.

As Longmont grows, so will Collision. The nearly 10,000-square-foot facility sports a large dining room, a medium-sized sports bar, a banquet room and two full bars with 28 taps between them. Feeding 18 of those taps is a seven-barrel brewing system helmed by older brother Jason Blythe. And once they start canning and distributing their beer — in April by Blythe’s estimation — they can expand into the undeveloped space in the back that’ll handle a 30-barrel system. But for now, Blythe is using the area to work on his hot rods.

Collision’s lineup is as varied as it is good; ranging from a fresh and fruity Pedal to the Peach kettle sour, perfect for the coming seasons, to Pony Porter, an English-style chocolaty brown ale with a historically accurate dollop of sour hiding between the malts.

“He’s been brewing 11 years,” Blythe says of his brother. “He’s got plenty of recipes.”

Their flagship: Red Rambler, a Belgian red ale, combines fruit and wood with a refreshingly herbaceous quality. It’s not your usual flagship beer, but it is bound to stand out once the Blythes start getting it on liquor store shelves around town.

But don’t skip a chance to visit Collision, sample their wares and dive into their Mexican street corn nachos. Most breweries are alike, but the Blythes have crafted their own thing.

Collision Brewing Company, 1436 Skyway Drive, Longmont, collisionbrewco.com