From spirits to hand sanitisers, how breweries and distillers are adapting to Covid-19

A Canberra-based distiller has halted spirits production to focus solely on producing hand sanitiser for frontline medical staff in the ACT in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“This week we have completely stopped production of our gin and vodka to dedicate our distillery 100 per cent to the production of hand sanitiser,” said Underground Spirits’ owner and Head Distiller, Dr. Toby Angstmann.

“We are working with the ACT Government to ensure that frontline medical staff in the ACT are serviced during this critical time as shortages are apparent.”

Dr. Angstmann said that they have already pushed out a significant quantity of sanitiser, over one thousand litres, and that they are producing around the clock. The sanitiser is being produced and sold at cost.

“We are proud to be local suppliers working with the ACT Government and other local businesses, including Bunnings who are assisting with supply of containers,” Dr. Angstmann said.

“We are all clever and industrious people with a desired and valued skill set and we all need to work together to get through this difficult time.

“This is a very dynamic situation. At the moment, we cannot produce enough hand sanitiser fast enough to sell it to retail customers as well, and health care professionals are our priority.

“We are all really feeling for the hospitality industry in Canberra and across the country. Folks are losing their jobs, businesses may shut down. We are doing what we can.”

The Bellarine Brewing Co in Geelong is also looking to start producing hand sanitisers in an effort to keep the business afloat during the temporary ban on venues throughout the nation.

The brewery is just waiting on the Australian Taxation Office to fast track the required permit.

“We have seen a massive downturn in business since the COVID 19 outbreak as we supply to a lot of large events and venues,” Brewing Co director Tim Page-Walker said in a letter to Labor MP Richard Marles.

“This downturn has forced us to stop all casual employment and consider closing our business.

“If we are successful in obtaining the required permit, we will have a hand sanitiser product ready for distribution within 24 hours and continue supply daily thereafter.

“We will continue to employ our full-time, part time and casual staff to manufacture and package the hand sanitiser. We may even have the need to employ more people to aid in local sales and distribution.

“More importantly, this short-term initiative may keep our business viable and enable us to continue growing our business in Geelong creating more and more employment opportunities into the future.”