By Eric Peterson | Aug 01, 2017
"We're a dedicated gluten-free brewery, the only one in Colorado," says Hertz. "The brewery's kind of a combination of my education, my career, and my personal life."
After attending CU Boulder and getting an MBA from CU Denver, she worked for MillerCoors until 2010. Along the way, a serious health scare changed her life -- and he career path. "In 2007, I was diagnosed with melanoma," says Hertz. "In 2008, I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer and Hashimoto's disease."
Treatment for Hashimoto's involved a gluten-free diet, which meant most beers were off the table, and the ones that weren't didn't meet her expectations of good craft beer. "The gluten-free options were low-quality, so I really started doing some research into ingredients," says Hertz.
She soon connected with Grouse Malt House in Wellington and started sourcing millet and buckwheat to develop gluten-free beers. "I found Grouse and worked and worked with her and CSU's Fermentation Science school."
Ingredients in hand, Hertz needed to innovate a gluten-free brewhouse. "The biggest challenge was the actual physical side of the grain. It's much smaller," she says. "A lot of people get stuck mashes on traditional equipment. I customized a system to avoid that. There isn't a system like it."
After building the system, Hertz went looking for a brewer and found Wayne Burns, formerly of Mountain Sun and several Michigan breweries. "I feel a lot of this is blood, sweat, and tears, but there's also luck," says Hertz. "He brings so much experience. I got really lucky."
While Burns isn't gluten-free himself, he took to the task of developing recipes immediately after connecting with Hertz in 2015. "He started brewing test batches in my kitchen," she says. "Every day, it was coming in and doing test batches and really getting to know the ingredients."
Millet "provide a lot of the color and some of the taste," says Hertz. "Buckwheat adds the body."
She adds, "We just dial in what's best for each style of beer. It goes back to Wayne's knowledge of beer. We call him the 'Beer Doctor' because he just knows everything."
Holidaily moved to its commercial system at its Golden production facility and taproom in late 2015 before the grand opening in February 2016. "We started with 20 barrels of fermentation and 20 barrels of brite tank," says Hertz. "Now we have 70 barrels of fermentation and 30 barrels of brite tank."
The beer selection increased from three to about 10 in the first year as hours expanded from weekends to every day. After production in 2016 totaled 333 barrels, Hertz is forecasting 700 barrels for 2017.
More and more of that total is coming from packaged beers. Holidaily started canning Favorite Blonde in May 2016, followed by Fat Randy's IPA in November, named for a childhood friend of Hertz's husband. "He's not fat," she laughs. "He's actually kind of a little guy. . . . It's hysterical when people find out he's this little guy. They're disappointed."
Regardless, his namesake IPA is a sales driver. "Fat Randy's is by far our bestseller," says Hertz. "It has those three magical letters: IPA."
The brewery couldn't use mobile canning due to the possibility of cross-contamination with gluten-rich beers. "I couldn't justify being so diligent and saying it didn't matter with canning," says Hertz.
In May 2017, the brewery canned its first seasonal in Buckwit Belgian, and will start canning its third year-round beer in November, Riva Stout. "There is no such thing as a gluten-free stout available in Colorado," says Hertz.
She's looking at introducing customers to some other gluten-free firsts: Holidaily is embarking on its first barrel-aged project using whiskey barrels from Breckenridge Distillery, and a sour might not be too far in the future.
Favorite beers: Hertz favors Holidaily's Patchy Waters Pumpkin Ale. "To have a gluten-free pumpkin beer makes people feel they're back in the craft beer world," she says. "And our Riva Stout is really, really good. It's dark and rich and chocolatey."
Many local ciders are also gluten-free go-tos for Hertz. "C Squared is one of our favorites," she says. "The cider business is booming. A lot of it is gluten-free beer drinkers."
Challenges: "Growth is a challenge for sure, and making sure we grow at the right pace," says Hertz. "I don't want to grow too fast and I don't want to grow too slow."
Opportunities: Growing with the gluten-free market. "A statistic a lot of people use [for the gluten-free market] is celiac disease, which is 3 percent," says Hertz. "In reality, 50 percent of the population is trying to reduce gluten right now."
Experimentation offers another opportunity, because gluten-free beers haven't even been around for a full decade. "Almost every batch is 'Let's try this, let's try that.' We're learning so much every time we brew." She sees potential for using rice malt and quinoa in future recipes.
While many craft breweries offer a gluten-free beer or two, there are only four other dedicated gluten-free brewing operations in the U.S., in Seattle, Portland, Minneapolis, and Pittsburgh, but Holidaily has a captive market. "They aren't distributing to Colorado yet," says Hertz. "We feel we have the best gluten-free options in Colorado."
The local market "is bigger than I thought it would be," she adds. "Right now, we're focused on Colorado. A, it's home, and B, someone could start a gluten-free brewery here or distribute gluten-free beer here. There's not anybody right now, so we have a great opportunity to be the gluten-free brewery in Colorado."
Needs: "We're really focused on building our distribution," says Hertz. "We need to be pushing forward with our distribution and getting the word out."