Helluva Brewing Company works to help community during coronavirus outbreak

Helluva Brewing Company got to work making hand sanitizer despite temporarily closing the doors of the business due to the coronavirus. (Courtesy Shawn Shepard/Helluva Brewing Company)
Helluva Brewing Company got to work making hand sanitizer despite temporarily closing the doors of the business due to the coronavirus. (Courtesy Shawn Shepard/Helluva Brewing Company)

Helluva Brewing Company got to work making hand sanitizer despite temporarily closing the doors of the business due to the coronavirus. (Courtesy Shawn Shepard/Helluva Brewing Company)

Helluva Brewing Company in Chandler made the tough decision to close its doors March 18—before the governor had even ordered bars to close and restaurants to suspend dine-in service.

Owner Shawn Shepard said the owners made the decision to close because they did not want to risk staff or guests getting sick nor to further impact the community spread by staying open.

"We just didn't feel like the risk was worth the reward," Shepard said.

When the business closed, the owners sent home all their employees with all the perishable food in the brewery.

"It was the least we could do. We can't give them a paycheck, but at least they aren't needing food and water for a bit," Shepard said. "A lot of them live paycheck to paycheck, but we sleep good at night knowing we made the right decision doing our part to not spread this crazy virus."


By the time it closed its doors, Helluva Brewing had been in business for just under a year and a half. Shepard said he and the other owners were nervous for the future of the business, but when they were approached by Adventurous Stills, a Tempe-based craft distillery, to make a "brew" while they were closed, the owners jumped at the opportunity.

The businesses banded together to make hand sanitizer for first responders, Shepard said.

"It was the ugliest, chunkiest, grossest beer we’ve ever brewed by far." Shepard said. "But it looks like we were able to create 60 or 70 gallons of hand sanitizer for first responders. We are dedicating our time and money. We aren't selling it at all. We are going to donate all of it."

The sanitizer will go to the Phoenix Police Department and the Tempe Fire Department, as well as to St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center, Shepard said. The owners have ties to the organizations—the company's brewmaster, Shepard said, is a former Tempe Fire Department captain.

"We all just came together, and we did it," Shepard said. "It was more labor than what we thought it would be, but it really turned into a labor of love. We would come home pretty tired, but I felt like I was giving back, so it made it all worth it."