Local distillery provides hand sanitizer to first responders, community
The first weekend Fraser Valley Distilling advertised it was making free hand sanitizer, owner Barry Young got a call from the Grand County Sheriff’s Office.
“I thought I was in trouble,” Young recalled.
But as it turns out, the sheriff’s office was actually reaching out to Young to stock up on his new product. Of the 250 bottles of hand sanitizer Fraser Valley Distilling made the weekend of March 20, local first responders received the majority.
“We were crying when (EMS) came in because they need (the sanitizer) for the police officers, the firefighters, the EMTs, for the hospital, so we were like take it, how much do you need,” said Rebecca Rudell, Young’s daughter and a distillery employee.
After that, Young picked up another 1,000 bottles for sanitizer and ramped up the production.
Young’s other daughter and the restaurant’s bar manager Jenna Young is a former lab scientist, familiar with all the ins and outs of proper sterilization, so when she began to hear about the possible coronavirus pandemic about a month ago, she jumped into action.
What: Fraser Valley Distilling offering free hand sanitizer
Where: 410 Zerex St, Fraser
When: 12:30 p.m. to 6 p.m., Thursday-Sunday
More info: On Facebook
First, Young whipped up several bottles of homemade alcohol sanitizer to clean her family’s restaurant and distillery and send home with the staff. Then Young became inspired by posts on social media about other distilleries making hand sanitizer from the leftover ethanol from the distilling process.
Using the World Health Organization recipe, Young collects the 80% ethanol from the distilling of grain-neutral spirits at the restaurant and mixes it with glycerol and hydrogen peroxide to form a virus-killing sanitizer.
“I’m doing 10 liter batches at a time, but often several a day, when we need it,” Young said.
So far, not only have first responders reached out for the hand sanitizer, but regular customers and those driving by have stopped in to pick it up. The distillery also partnered with Grand County Outbreak of Kindness to hand out free sanitizer with grocery deliveries.
“The more hands it’s in, the better,” Young said. “We’re trying to also keep enough (at the restaurant) for the people that randomly show up.”
While the sanitizer is free, that hasn’t stopped people from donating money and supplies to the operation. Grand County EMS provided several bottles of hydrogen peroxide to the effort and neighbors have dropped off glycerol, the two ingredients the distillery doesn’t have easy access to.
Others have donated cash, which Young said is all going to the distillery’s staff to help them make ends meet while the restaurant operates on curbside dining only.
“It’s been very emotional because we’ve wondered ‘do we close or do we let our staff pay their bills,'” Rudell said. “We’re just so thankful.”
Fraser Valley Distilling plans to bottle sanitizer for at least as long as the restaurant stays open and Young added that anyone looking for a large batch should reach out to her directly at email@example.com.
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