Live each and every day as if it were a holiday.
That’s the timely ethos Karen Hertz MBA ‘05 has sought to instill through her brewery, Holidaily Brewing Company, since she first opened its doors to customers in Golden, Colorado nearly five years ago. As a two-time cancer survivor, Hertz understood the importance of cherishing health and happiness, and to help preserve her health she had adopted a strict, gluten-free diet. Because most beers are made with barley and wheat—both of which contain gluten—that meant a drastically reduced choice of beers for Hertz, a Colorado native, former Coors executive, and general beer enthusiast.
But entrepreneurs see opportunity in exactly those kinds of challenges, and that led Hertz to establish the Holidaily brand. Today, it’s one of only 15 dedicated gluten-free breweries in the country.
Watch How Karen Hertz Built Her Business
A Winning Recipe
“It doesn’t have to taste bad,” Hertz replied, when asked what misconceptions people have about gluten-free beer. And Holidaily’s beer certainly does not taste bad—last year, its hazy IPA was awarded a gold medal at the Great American Beer Festival. “Some people don’t even realize it’s gluten free. It’s just a great craft beer and it happens to be gluten free.”
With the help of brewer Connor Reeves, a 2015 CU Boulder graduate, the winning recipe that was once limited to taproom tastings has been refined into Holidaily’s latest offering, Big Henry Hazy IPA, which is now available in cans for easier distribution.
“Big Henry is the culmination of a pet project I’ve had at the brewery since 2018 to make a delicious, gluten-free, hazy IPA,” Reeves said. “It is very exciting to have a beer I have invested so much into finally be released to the public, and I am looking forward to hearing feedback on how Holidaily can keep improving.”
How Gluten-Free Beer Is Made
Traditionally, beer requires four main ingredients: water, yeast, hops, and grain. Water and hops are both gluten-free. Gluten-free varieties of yeast can be cultivated easily enough. But the grain can pose a challenge for brewers trying to produce a truly gluten-free beer.
At Holidaily, gluten-free millet and buckwheat take the place of wheat and barley. Millet and buckwheat are less efficient for fermenting, though, because more is required to get the same amount of sugar as would ordinarily come from wheat or barley (and sugar is what the yeast digests to produce alcohol). Holidaily’s grains are locally sourced, yet the sizes of the grains required Hertz to innovate upon standard brewing equipment. Millet and buckwheat are smaller than wheat or barley, so Hertz developed a custom, tighter filter. Once those details were refined, once she figured out how to make a good quality beer, she knew she could start a business. Her business education at CU Denver and specialization in entrepreneurship provided crucial support.
“Without the degree, I wouldn’t have had the courage,” said Hertz.
A Product with a Purpose
Since 2016, production at Holidaily has increased tenfold as more and more people discover there are options available to those with gluten intolerances. Despite their successful entry into Colorado’s beer scene, Holidaily has not lost sight of the community that sustains them. Each month, the brewery conducts a fundraiser called “Raise a Pint, Lend a Hand” to benefit organizations such as BGoldN, a local food assistance program. At each of these events, 10 percent of the sales are donated by Holidaily to the sponsored organization.
That cooperative spirit manifests elsewhere in the beer business, too. “We’re in about 40 different breweries, which I didn’t expect,” said Hertz. “One brewery doesn’t usually carry another brewery’s beer, but other breweries recognize the value of having a gluten-free beer on tap.”
A strong commitment to community support can also help protect small businesses during challenging times.
Watch 9 Ways to Support Small Businesses Like Holidaily
Celebrating a New Year
With the holidays quickly approaching, Holidaily is still working to help people celebrate, despite necessary restrictions for safety. Though brewery tours are postponed, the tented patio remains open with socially distanced tables and fire pits to keep customers warm.
It’s been a challenging year for everyone, but Hertz has overcome challenges before. Her resilient and optimistic spirit is evident in every brightly colored can of Holidaily beer, each of which tells a story. Her grandfather, her husband’s best friend, and even a family boat have inspired the names of the beers, with their significance to Hertz and Holidaily immortalized in aluminum. That loving sense of connection might bring as much warmth and good cheer as what’s inside.
As we count down the final days of 2020, Hertz offers this perspective: “Let’s just make the most of every single day.”
Cheers to health and happiness in 2021.