By Preston Morse
Unless you’ve been shacking in an abandoned mine shaft for the past few decades, it’s no secret that folks around here are serious about beer. Whether we’re hiking, biking, relaxing, tailgating or crashing the après-ski bash, beer is at the heart of Colorado and we embrace it passionately.
While most of us bask freely in the shimmering glow of craft brew goodness, many gluten-sensitive beer lovers have been left in the shadows with a glass half empty. No celebratory cold one after conquering that 14er, no tailgate hop bombs before night three of String Cheese Incident, no frosty drafts at Mile High on those gorgeous November Sundays.
Fortunately, for those dietary-restricted souls, salvation lies off Colorado Highway 93 in Golden. Thanks to Karen Hertz and Holidaily Brewing Co., gluten-free imbibers must no longer gaze longingly as the world sips confidently around them.
A melanoma diagnosis in 2007 and a battle with thyroid cancer a year later left Hertz with a treatment plan that required a gluten-free diet. Admittedly, it was a rocky transition but one she has embraced.
“It’s really, really hard and you feel a little sorry for yourself. But then in the long run when you realize how much better you feel, it’s kind of a gift,” Hertz said.
She began operations in 2016 after years of dissatisfaction with existing gluten-free beer options. The name, Holidaily, pays homage to health, happiness and all the gluten-sensitive beer lovers who can once again wet their whistles with craft brew.
“There are homebrewers and people really into the craft scene and they get this diagnosis and they’re devastated. So, to be able to come to a brewery and have a beer, or go to the liquor store and take it to a tailgate party, it’s more emotional than people think it would be.” Hertz said. “Every day is a holiday and we’re going to treat it as a gift.”
An Englewoodnative and 10-year veteran of Coors distribution, she knows a thing or two about beer. Starting a brewery wasn’t always a bucket-lister, but industry insight and an MBA lit the beacon.
“I was at this crossroads and I love beer so it’s where all these things met,” Hertz said. “I have great kids and I’m married to a great guy and we have great friends and my family is great. All the boxes were checked, except for my career and I just felt like I could give more.”
Holidaily is one of five gluten-free breweries in the U.S. Others that offer gluten-reduced options rely on traditional ingredients like barley or wheat, and introduce an enzyme during brewing to break down the gluten molecules, potentially leaving trace residuals.
Head brewer Wayne Burns uses only millet and buckwheat, primarily sourced from Twila Henley’s Grouse Malt House in Wellington. With 25 years of brewing experience under his belt and a modified brewing system, Burns artfully crafts their two flagships, Favorite Blonde Ale and Fat Randy’s IPA, plus whatever other curveballs Hertz throws his way.
When Holidaily opened in February 2016, they had three beers on tap. Since then they’ve built a distribution network of 100 locations across Colorado.
“My goal from the very beginning was to get beer in the hands of people who haven’t been able to have beer in a really long time, so we’re very focused on distribution,” Hertz said. “The best part is people coming in and being so emotionally touched by the fact that they can come to a craft brewery and drink anything on the menu.”
Stop by their tap room at 801 Brickyard Circle #B, in Golden, or check out their website, holidailybrewing.com, for distribution partners in your neighborhood.
Preston Morse is a recovering flatlander whose appreciation for good beer and everything outdoors lit his path to Colorado.