How three companies joined forces to turn beer into hand sanitizer
About the company
Dunrobin Distilleries uses local organic and non-GMO ingredients to make artisanal spirits and bitters.
The Green Beaver Company creates natural personal care and skin care products and cosmetics.
Beau’s All Natural Brewing Co. is a family-run, employee-owned, organic Canadian brewery.
Location: Dunrobin Distilleries is in Dunrobin, Ontario. The Green Beaver Company is in Hawkesbury, Ontario. Beau’s All Natural Brewing Co. is in Vankleek Hill, Ontario. Industry: Beverage and natural products
Three Ottawa-area companies couldn’t make enough hand sanitizer on their own and teamed up to meet the demand for frontline workers like cashiers and delivery drivers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dunrobin Distilleries had a still that could produce ethanol, but no facilities to produce large quantities of hand sanitizer. Beau’s All Natural Brewing Co. has the space to produce it and litres of kegged beer destined for bars and restaurants that had closed due to the pandemic.
The Green Beaver Company had been making a limited quantity of hand sanitizer but didn’t have enough ethanol. Its equipment will be used in the combined effort and it also has a supplier network for hand sanitizer.
“COVID hit so quickly and the demand was so immediate,” says Dunrobin co-founder Adrian Spitzer.
“We decided to approach Beau’s and see if it made sense to take the alcohol out of the beer that was stacking up in their warehouse, because all the bars and restaurants had closed, and turn it into hand sanitizer,” he says.
The federal and provincial governments moved quickly to grant the necessary permits and the World Health Organization gave an approved formula to make 80% alcohol-based, extra-strength hand sanitizer. Equipment was retooled and electrical capacity was increased for the collaborative effort at Beau’s.
Dunrobin and Beau’s are working together to increase production to 20,000 litres weekly, up from the 4,000 litres that Dunrobin was producing weekly on its own. With the addition of Green Beaver on the sales and packaging side, they hope to meet a larger portion of the overall demand.
They’re selling to frontline business in the Ottawa area whose employees need large quantities of hand sanitizer to do their jobs, Spitzer says, and they plan to expand into parts of Quebec. Weekly donations are also made to different charities and shelters. They don’t produce enough yet to sell at the retail level.
Green Beaver co-founder Alain Ménard says the collaboration will also help him increase Green Beaver’s own hand sanitizer production, in addition to what is being produced collaboratively.
He says there’s a demand for natural, high-quality hand sanitizer that is made in Canada.
“Sustainability will be even more important. I think that Canadian brands will have an edge and it will create jobs,” Ménard says.
“I think that with everything we are going through, buying local will be really important.”