Like many cities across the world, St. Louis, Missouri is facing a shortage of hand sanitizer right when medical professionals and regular citizens need it most. After the word got out earlier this week that profiteers were hoarding vital supplies, distilleries around the United States began making their own and giving it away for free. Now, breweries like 4 Hands Brewing Co. are making their own.
“You cannot find hand sanitizer in St. Louis right now. Sanitizer is what this community needs and what the community cannot get,” Liz Swyers, the marketing manager at 4 Hands Brewing Co. “That’s why we’re giving it away for free at the brewery. It’s small, but it’s something.”
Since it first opened, 4 Hands Brewing Co. has always made community outreach a central part of its mission. Through sales of its City Wide American pale ale, it has raised more than $200,000 for local nonprofits. They’re not the only brewery that has been taking up the charge to help fight COVID-19, though. In the UK, BrewDog has announced they’ll begin producing and giving away free hand sanitizer. Over in Brazil, Ambev is doing the same, while Raft Beer Labs and Annex Ale Project are doing so in Canada. And unlike some of the early opportunists on Amazon, all of these breweries are concerned about helping those in need rather than making a quick buck.
“If you come to the brewery, you’re able to get one bottle per person, because we want to spread the love as much as possible. No purchase is necessary, but we’re asking for donations. At the end, we’re going to make a plan to give to people who are hurting.”
We all have to do what we can, that’s for sure.”
In St. Louis, the response was immediate and overwhelming.
“Our phone has been ringing off the hook this morning since we opened. We’re open from 12 to 6 for takeaway orders only and people were here at 9 a.m.,” Swyers says. “We’re also giving it to our servicemen and women, our policemen and women and first responders who need it because of their risk of exposure.”
At the moment, the whole team is rushing to pull together as much hand sanitizer as possible. Although they started with 1,100 2 oz. bottles, they’ve been growing more flexible with containers as the demand vastly exceeds the supply. In a time with breweries, along with most small business owners, are facing catastrophic economic uncertainty, the goal of aiding others is helping the team at 4 Hands Brewing Co. stand strong.
“We shared this on social media and the support has been just unbelievable. Just overall, it shows who and what St. Louis is as a city. Our community here is so amazing,” Swyers says. “It gives us something to work toward right now. It’s a really scary time. If we’re able to do and get our team around it, it’s definitely keeping us going.”
There is no denying that the entire world is going to be in crisis for the foreseeable future. Every brewery has problems of its own, but many are choosing to temporarily set them aside to work toward the common good.
“People are scared,” Swyers says. “If it doesn’t personally financially affect you, it affects 10 people you know. We all have to do what we can, that’s for sure.”