Betsy Duffy, owner of Gezellig Brewing Company, says owning a business is a lot like raising a child: it takes a lot of hard work, it can be very expensive at times and no matter how hard you try not to you’re always worrying.
“There is not one single day that I do not worry about this business,” she said.
Even while planning the Newton-based microbrewery’s two-year anniversary and first ever bottle series release, Duffy can’t help but worry. Will she and staff meet their pre-determined timelines? Will customers be disappointed?
The ribbons, plaques and medals hanging on the taproom walls can give Duffy some reassurance, at least.The awards are nice, she said, but they’re really just the icing on the cake. Truthfully, she’s just proud Gezelling has made it this far.
“We didn’t get to celebrate our first anniversary because of a little thing known as a worldwide pandemic,” Duffy said, noting all Gezellig did was release a birthday beer, but with no party. “And then we had the derecho.”
For the most part the Aug. 10, 2020 storm — and its 100 mph wind gusts — did not affect the brewery too badly. A few broken windows here and there. But the neighboring Cellar Peanut Pub owned by Duffy’s husband was destroyed.
“That was a really large stresser on me and our family,” Duffy said.
When the city was recovering from the storm, Gezellig staff frequently hosted food trucks, allowed people to use the taproom’s electricity and encouraged folks to cool off inside with the air conditioning.
Gezellig also changed its business model. Originally, Duffy had not thought the brewery would package its brews in cans, but rather self-distribute kegs to clients for about five years. Since bars were forced to shut down, Gezellig adapted.
“Business was pushed to off-premise retailers like grocery stores and liquor stores,” Duffy said. “Our team is absolutely phenomenal. My pride and joy is my team and the way they are so resilient, hard workers, outside-the-box thinkers.”
Before Gezellig teamed up with fellow brewery Confluence Brewing Company to distribute its beer and NoCoast Beer Co. for its mobile canning setup, staff were directly filling and hand-seeming every single can for delivery.
“That really kept us alive,” Duffy said. “They would work 16-hour days manually doing that. It’s exhausting, but also rewarding when you get team members who want to do anything that they can to help. It’s wonderful!”
Officially, the brewery turned 2 years old on June 7, but Duffy is a firm believer of spreading birthdays out for at least a week. After all those challenges in 2020, a drawn out celebration is certainly warranted.
In addition to unveiling new Swizzles (full-fruited sours named after Taylor Swift songs), Gezellig will have a two-year anniversary party starting 4 p.m. June 11 with live music and food vendors.
Four new bottled beers will be unveiled at 9 a.m. June 12:
All Roggs Go To Heaven (bourbon barrel-aged double roggenbier), Big Boi Vanilla Party (bourbon barrel-aged imperial stout), Get Chocolate Wasted (rye whiskey barrel-aged imperial stout) and Tequila Little Time With You (tequila barrel-aged blended sour).
Contact Christopher Braunschweig at 641-792-3121 ext. 6560 or firstname.lastname@example.org