Dogfish Head Brewery Is Fighting Coronavirus. Here's How.
With worrisome shortages of medical supplies, businesses around the country are manufacturing things they wouldn't normally be making — everything from face masks to hand sanitizer.
NASCAR engineers are using 3D printers to roll out face shields instead of car parts. Masks and gowns for hospital workers are being made from Major League Baseball uniforms. And distilleries and breweries large and small are getting into the hand sanitizer business.
Among them is Dogfish Head Craft Brewery in Delaware. The workers there are more accustomed to brewing I.P.A.s, but in the above video Sam Calagione, the founder of the company, shows how they're now bottling growlers of hand sanitizer to help their community. He has a few tips for other businesses who are looking for a way to pitch in.
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How you doing? I’m Sam Calagione, founder and brewer of Dogfish Head Craft Brewery. And for 25 years, we’ve been making everything from I.P.A.s to sour beers to rums to gin. And now, during this time of crisis, we’ve come to see that there’s a very specific kind of alcohol that pretty much everybody needs. I never thought I’d say this, but we’re launching this week our newest product, Dogfish Head Hand Sanitizer. I got this email from David Grinnell who oversees brewing for Sam Adams, and in it was a photograph from a European distillery that had repurposed their production facility to start making hand sanitizer. And I was like, duh, this is what we need to start doing. Our engineers went to work overnight and basically built from scratch a custom bottling line just for filling hand sanitizer. There goes two of our engineers right there. Hi, guys. And literally by that Friday, we were shipping our first load to local hospitals. We made the first batch out of our gin and shared it with a hospital. And they were pretty much like, we’d rather smell like nothing than smell like we just came out of a nightclub. So we quickly took all the flavoring and aromatic agents out of the recipe. I don’t think that we’re heroes. We’re hard-working, industrious people trying to do something good in this challenging moment that will keep the nurses and doctors and emergency workers as safe as possible. So here’s a sort of recipe that I learned that I hope will be applicable to lots of businesses around the country to help them engage in a positive way in this moment of crisis. Step 1, you’ve got to start by reaching out to your local or state government to understand where there is need. So in our case, we’re working with state government to understand through their eyes who are the most critical customers for our hand sanitizer, starting with hospitals and health agencies. Step 2, sell it. You know, we are a business. We have a payroll. We’ve got bills to pay. In our instance, we’re really proud that we’ve been able to keep all of our full-time co-workers employed. But we’ve had to get creative because we did shut down our two restaurants and our hotel. But now they’re here helping to make the food for our production co-workers. And they’re here packaging and making the hand sanitizer as well. And Step 3, figure out a way to give back. When we decided that we wanted to provide to the State of Delaware our hand sanitizer, they were like, “Look, charge us market value.” But we didn’t really have a good taste in our mouth about profiting from this moment of crisis as we worked with the state. So 100 percent of the profits from the hand sanitizer that we sell to the state will be given to a fund to give financial relief to hospitality workers that have been put out of work by this crisis. Mariah and I were at the grocery store last weekend. And a nurse came up to us from the local hospital and said, “Thank you so much. Our stores were really low. I want you to know I’m keeping that growler. When we‘re done with the hand sanitizer, I’m going to empty it out and refill it with beer at Dogfish when this is all over.” And I’ll always remember that. Knowing I got to do my part, shoulder-to-shoulder with all my co-workers, makes this beer taste that much better. Cheers, and stay safe out there. Kidding — do not drink this stuff.