Keys Behind Sanitizer Collaborations for Colorado

A hand sanitizer shortage amidst the COVID-19 pandemic sparked an effort by Root Shoot Malting, 10 distilleries across Colorado, and Weldwerks Brewing Company to produce hand sanitizer for first responders, medical professionals, and the public.

Root Shoot has continued producing malts throughout the pandemic.

“However, we have seen a significant decrease in sales that parallel our craft beverage industries,” co-owner Emily Olander said. “As a family farm and malthouse, we are directly impacted by the lack of consumer sales in the brewing and distilling communities, and thus our focus revolves around community support and engagement.”

Root Shoot Malting was approached earlier this year by The Block Distilling Company for a corn donation for its hand sanitizer production. This inspired Root Shoot to donate up to 16,000 pounds of corn to Colorado distilleries to make hand sanitizer which is helping distilleries fill their backlogged orders.

“We knew that craft distilleries around the country were focusing their efforts in producing sanitizing solutions as an attempt to alleviate the national shortage,” Olander said. “With the intent of our distilling partners contributing directly to the medical professionals or persons in need, we initiated the conversation to members of the Colorado Distillers Guild and our current craft distilling partners.”

As Colorado taprooms are beginning the reopening process in the next few weeks and months, breweries will require access to PPE to ensure the safety of their employees and consumers.

Weldwerks has been sending staff to distilleries as needed to blend and package sanitizer, and order fulfillment has been integrated into taproom operations. 

“Since we don’t currently have the equipment necessary to distill or to process and store ethanol, we have been completely reliant on our distillery partners for our sanitizer program and all batches of sanitizer have been produced at the distilleries, with the vast majority being produced up at Pine Bluffs Distilling in Wyoming,” said co-owner and head brewer Neil Fisher.

Weldwerks and its charitable arm, the Weldwerks Community Foundation, are now making hand sanitizer available to breweries in Colorado for a nominal cost or free, depending on whether breweries are able to contribute. 100% of the proceeds will go to the Colorado Brewers Guild.

“We’ve used both distilled and sourced ethanol for our sanitizer production, but all batches have used the same 80% alcohol formula provisioned by the FDA,” Fisher added. “As for packaging, we’ve utilized several different packaging formats, including 500 mL bottles donated by Amcor in Denver, 1L bottles provided by Pepsi in Wyoming, and moving forward, one-gallon plastic jugs with child resistant caps.”

All batches, regardless of format, are packaged and labeled by hand.

Colorado breweries that are interested in purchasing the hand sanitizer can email sanitizer@weldwerksbrewing.com.

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