CLEARWATER, Fla. — Big Storm Brewing’s Ryan Whidden was a chemist before he was a beermaker.
Those skills are suddenly coming in very handy as he helps with the brewery's newest venture: making hand sanitizer.
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“Actually it’s not that weird,” says Whidden, as he pumps isopropyl alcohol from a giant vat.
Big Storm Brewing President LJ Govoni is launching the sanitizer venture as a way to help keep his staff employed during the economic downtown caused by the coronavirus outbreak.
“For every bottle [of sanitizer] that we sell to somebody, we get to keep people working here,” says Govoni.
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As it turns out, a brewery — from its staff to its equipment — is suited to sanitizer production.
“It was a quick flip for us,” says Govoni.
As the need for sanitizer continues to rise, Big Storm would like to get their sanitizer supply into the hands of doctors, nurses and first responders — the people on the front lines of COVID-19 pandemic.
Even though it is now making sanitizer, Big Storm continues to brew up its signature beer.
Its inhouse bar and restaurant is currently closed to customers, but you can still purchase the brewery's beer via curbside pickup service and delivery.
Tarpon Springs Distillery in Tarpon Springs is also brewing up hand sanitizer. They plan to give away small bottles to individuals while selling the bulk of the product to businesses, hospitals and government agencies.
A lotion manufacturer in Oldsmar is also making hand sanitizer and is available for the public to buy.