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Better Together: Pacifica Distillery Helps Fight COVID-19 Pandemic By Making Sanitizer

PACIFICA (KPIX 5) -- A couple of cars zoom by a hand-drawn sign topped with a flashing blue light, propped up on a lonely sidewalk on Palmetto Avenue in Pacifica. The sign and its flashing blue light are drawing customers inside a small shop, the Tripp Distillery.

But Jason Tripp isn't pouring his signature vodka, rum and gin. Instead, he's pouring sanitizer. It's a blue light special Jason Tripp says he is proud to serve up.

The sanitizer is made with 65 percent alcohol that Tripp distills in small batches. So when customers come to buy his valuable commodity, they are greeted with the aroma of handmade, high-quality spirits.

"Think of [the sanitizer] as like a raw, unprocessed, flammable version of rum," explained Tripp.

For several weeks, Tripp -- who has owned and operated the Tripp Distillery for the last three years -- has limited the libations he is producing in favor of this liquid gold.

When the shelter in place order happened, Tripp's client base -- from the San Jose Sharks to local bars -- shut down, leaving him with a difficult choice. He has three employees and he wanted to keep everyone working

"We could recalibrate our equipment and make sanitizer," said Tripp. "Hopefully at least keep people employed part time."

Since then, Tripp and his employees have been very busy.

"So I didn't know if there would be demand or not," said Tripp. "So we went ahead and made it and we've been making it 24-7 for almost ten days now."

So far, they've made 150 gallons of this highly flammable stuff. Tripp is even sleeping at the Distillery so he can keep up with demand. He is also careful to remind everyone the hand sanitizer is made from real alcohol.

"Don't dilute, don't add Aloe," Tripp thoughtfully cautioned  every customer as they paid. "And sure as heck don't light a match around it."

His customers are grateful, and all made sure to thank him as they left with their bottles. Many said they see Tripp as a community hero.

"I can't find it to buy anywhere else," said one customer who did not want to give his name. "And I really appreciate Tripp Distillery doing this for the community."

The sanitizer is priced at $1 per ounce and Tripp  is selling it at 8 ounces at a time, carefully measuring and pouring each bottle out for his customers. He is also limiting how much each customer per day so that everyone has access to it.

Tripp's sanitizer is so popular he has run out of bottles. For now customers must bring in their own, making it a true BYOB operation, green and sustainable.

"We ran out of bottles about the first day into it.," said Tripp. "And we still can't get bottles. We can get toilet paper but not bottles."

Tripp is helping out there too, giving away free toilet paper to anyone who needs it. And he has given away free pasta too. But the grateful community has given back to Tripp, bringing by food, drinks and even raw supplies to make the sanitizer.

And while Tripp is heartened by the support and  loves helping his community, he's looking forward to this all coming to an end.

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