The coronavirus has thrown all of our lives into chaos. Most of us are staying home all day and all night, working from our dining room tables and teaching our children in our living rooms.
Brewers and distillers are no different. March has brought with it a number of surprises. One is that most of them are now serving customers curbside instead of barside.
For some, the changes have been more dramatic.
From gin to hand sanitizer
Business was slowing down for Lynnwood’s Temple Distilling as the quarantine ramped up. Then AJ Temple, owner and distiller for Temple Distilling, began seeing other distillers changing operations to make hand sanitizers. And then he started getting phone calls asking if Temple was making the alcohol-based cleaner.
So the distillery changed over from making gin to hand sanitizer. In the past week, Temple has pumped out hundreds of 1-liter bottles of hand sanitizer instead of the well gin he was planning to make. All of it is going to hospitals, medical personnel and first responders.
“Our energy level is through the roof fright now,” Temple said. “The community response from customers and organizations have been great. We’re excited to be doing this.
“We’re also looking forward to getting back to normal.”
Temple is following the World Health Organization and Federal Drug Administration standards in producing the hand sanitizer. After denaturing the alcohol with isopropyl alcohol, Temple adds hydrogen peroxide and glycerin.
“I talked to a woman who worked in the ER who was splashing Everclear on her hands,” Temple said. “Whatever they need, they’re using it.”
Temple is still selling its gins, including its new Constant Reader gin and Co-Authored Vol. 2 gin, in its online store at www.chapteronegin.com and offering free delivery within 30 miles of the distillery.
From brewer to delivery man
Dick Mergens is used to spending his days in the brewhouse wrestling with a recipe and mixing and matching hops, malt and yeast. He’s not used to being a door-to-door delivery guy.
Since the governor’s stay-at-home edict, Mergens, owner and head brewer of Crucible Brewing in Everett, has been delivering his beers as part of Crucible’s curbside and delivery program.
“People have been really generous,” Mergens said. “They’re excited to see the owner delivering beer, but honestly I think they’d rather see someone else — another employee — doing it.”
Temporarily laying off most of his staff has been the hardest part for Mergens, who said he’s been mostly cleaning during the quarantine. The brewery has cut hours down to five per day for the entire staff. Meanwhile, delivery, curbside pick-up and to-go options have all been extended.
“We’re doing OK,” said Mergens, who equated the current situation to a slow January week. “My main goal is that on the other side of this, all of our people will have their jobs back.”
Crucible has set up an online store and is offering delivery, curbside and to-go options via text message. Check out www.cruciblebrewing.com for more information.
From kegs to cans
After the coronavirus shutdown, SnoTown Brewery’s Frank Sandoval could only fill growlers to go. But then a phone call from a friend changed everything.
Scuttlebutt head brewer Eric Nord rang Sandoval and offered up the brewery’s crowler machine for selling cans of beer. It was a friendly gesture that Sandoval saw as a lifeline for his Snohomish business.
Sandoval ran over to Scuttlebutt’s brewery on March 20 and got a crash course on filling and seaming the cans. He then brought the crowler machine to SnoTown and started an assembly line of filling cans. He created 24 four-packs of 16-ounce cans and started selling them last weekend. SnoTown sold out quickly and had repeated success this past weekend.
Next weekend — SnoTown is only open Friday through Sunday currently — Sandoval plans to have a dark beer and IPA four-pack.
For 5 Rights in Marysville, the imperial IPA that was originally slated to be the brewery’s anniversary beer, is now Essential Business IPA. 5 Rights owner R.J. Whitlow said that the anniversary party has been put off indefinitely, but the brewery remains open for to-go orders Tuesday through Saturday.
Arlington’s Bad Dog Distillery recently released its BD Quad whiskey. Made from equal parts rye, corn, wheat and barley, the unique whiskey is available at the distillery, which is open for to-go sales Friday and Saturday. Like Temple, Bad Dog Distilling also is making hand sanitizer.