When Golden resident Karen Hertz opened a beer brewery in early 2016, she was simply out to make a great-tasting 100% gluten-free glass of suds for herself, as well as others with similar dietary restrictions.
But what she wound up doing was creating one of the nation's fastest-growing—and now award-winning—niche craft breweries.
So, raise a glass to Holidaily Brewing Co. by industry trade publication Brewbound as one of the nation's 2021 Rising Stars.
The award came as a total surprise, admits Laura Ukowich, Holidaily Brewing Co. chief operating officer.
“When we first heard about the award, we were taken aback, absolutely taken aback,” said Ukowich. “It was one of those moments where we feel like we're doing great things, and we're very passionate about what we do — so to get an award and to have other people recognize that. We want to leave our mark for sure.”
Holidaily was named along with seven other Rising Stars and was the only Colorado brewery awarded in this category.
“Brewbound is proud to honor our 2021 Award winners and Rising Stars, “ Brewbound editor Justin Kendall said in a statement. "This year presented brewers with an unrelenting onslaught of headwinds. In the face of challenges, our award winners and Rising Stars pressed on, created new areas of opportunity and advocated for a better industry and world.”
But, seriously, how does it taste?
Well, it tastes like beer, of course, said Ukowich with a smile.
And to any doubters, Holidaily Brewing Co. Marketing Coordinator Hannah Perkins extends an open invitation to come and taste for themselves.
“Half the time, people don't notice the difference," she said. “And that's the goal.”
Ukowich said the “taste test challenge” is a favorite way to introduce beer fans to their product.
Like most craft breweries, Holidaily brews everything from a dark stout to a blonde, IPAs, reds and lagers.
“We think we truly have a better craft beet that just happens to be gluten-free,” she said. “It's a beer that everybody can enjoy. I think quality piece has always has been top of mind. We didn't want to cut corners.”
She says the magic comes from their high-quality craft brewing process, which begins with their choice of grains.
“Normal beer is made barley and wheat, which both contain gluten,” explains Ukowich. “We use quality millet and buckwheat, which are naturally gluten-free.”
Gluten-reduced means the beer is brewed with barley and wheat, like any other mainstream beer, but Ukowich says the difference is the fact the brewer adds an enzyme at the end of the brewing process that cuts the gluten.
“It like, literally, chops it up in the beer,” she said. “And we definitely have consumers that are still not able to drink those beers.”
She said even with the gluten significantly cut, there's still enough of it in the beer that highly gluten-sensitive people can still get sick.
Holidaily's brews are 100% dedicated gluten-free and never use the enzyme.
And that promise is more than just words.
Ukowich said the brewery voluntarily undergoes an annual audit by the Gluten-Free Certification Organization, based in Auburn, Washington.
The audit reviews the entire brewing process from start to finish, standard operating procedures, and even interviews individual staff members.
“It's very thorough,” said Ukowich. “And to be 100% certified and have that gluten-free logo on our cans means a lot — to our consumers and us.”
What's on tap for the future?
Something close to “world domination,” Perkins joked.
Since opening its doors in 2016, Holidaily's production has grown by more than 850%, according to a press statement announcing their 2021 industry award.
With expanded distribution, Holidaily beers are available across Colorado with new expansions into Arizona, Kansas City, Houston, Austin, and southern California.
The Golden location opened in 2016. “To get our beer out there, we were driving around in our mom SUVs delivering beer to liquor stores, restaurants, and bars, Said Ukowich. “So literally, we have come a long way.”
When asked what she thinks is driving the expansion, Ukowich attributes it to their niche product.
“About 30% of consumers, now, are gluten-free—either that they know they are or have chosen to move toward that kind of diet,” she said. “We have that niche—a beer that everybody can drink.”
Ukowich said Holidaily plans to grow its roots locally while carefully eyeing thoughtful expansion into other markets across the country.
The brewery will celebrate its sixth anniversary in February with a “highly anticipated special release,” added Perkins. For details and the date, visit holidailybrewing.com.