What’s the old adage? “One man’s non-life-sustaining business is another man’s necessity?” Something like that.
When news struck that state stores and beer distributors were going to close within (roughly) 24 hours of the announcement, consumers flooded every beer, wine and liquor outlet they could find to stock their homes in preparation for quarantine.
Pennsylvania wineries and liquor distilleries have been a niche industry spared the mandatory shutdown because they provide alcohol for take-out, just like restaurants do for food.
Not only that, but a number of craft distilleries in the Philly area are also now making hand sanitizer, another hot commodity. Because they already produce the primary ingredient in hand sanitizer – ethanol – the state has waived regulations that they would otherwise impart on the breweries and distilleries.
And a number of businesses are also providing delivery or curbside pick-up of beer, wine and liquor for thirsty people in the Delaware Valley while they wait out the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since Friday, Center City’s City Winery is offering wine growlers available for pick-up at their 10th and Filbert location during the day.
For bourbon, gin, whiskey and scotch drinkers, Bluebird Distilling in Phoenixville is offering free delivery to any purchase made with 15 miles of the distillery and customers from the five-county region who place orders over $100 get the delivery charge waived.
Billy Penn put together a full list of drive-thru and delivery wine, liquor and beer purveyors, found here.
But what may be in equally high demand these days as booze when there is no bar open is hand sanitizer.
“We make ethanol. Ethanol is one key part of hand sanitizer,” said Jared Adkins, founder and master distiller of Bluebird Distilling.
He said he’s been going back and forth with hospitals and pharmacies to secure the two other primary ingredients for the solution – a vegetable-based glycerin and peroxide.
Following guidelines from the CDC, the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board and the World Health Organization, Adkins said he’s been provided a standard recipe for hand sanitizer which makes it easy on him.
“Instead of each [distillery] trying to make up their own, now we have a standard formula to follow, which makes it easy and everything the same. So, we’re all kind of doing the standard recipe to produce high-quality hand sanitizer.”
In Norristown, John George, owner, founder and distiller at Five Saints Distilling, is also making hand sanitizer.
“In order to do it, you need to get the bottles. You need the ingredients, which we don’t usually carry.”
“We’re working with a local pharmacy here in Norristown to get that together as soon as we can and once we have our bottles we’ll put it together. I’m a pharmacist by training, so I think we can pull it off.”
George said that the number of inquiries for curbside pick-up of vodka, whiskey, gin and blood orange liqueur has nearly tripled since the state store shutdown. He and his staff are taking extra precautions in exercising responsible social distancing during the bottle exchange process.
“They’re coming in one at a time to secure their bottles,” he said.
“We try to do it as touchless as possible, respecting the fact that we don’t want to promote any contamination more than there already is.”
“We’re here for the community, to help de-stress as much as possible, keep some sense of camaraderie and we’re looking forward to getting that hand sanitizer produced.”
New Liberty Distillery in Northern Liberties is also lending a hand to contribute to the hand sanitizer shortage.
Rob Cassell, New Liberty master distiller and president of the Pennsylvania Distillers Guild, said that many distillers in the state are working with Congress and the governor to cut red tape and put 100,000 bottles of hand sanitizer into public hands in the coming days.
According to WHYY, Dogfish Head Craft Brewery is also making hand sanitizer to its patrons in Delaware, and as more and more breweries and distilleries get on board, the light is getting brighter at the end of the tunnel.