Over the course of the last month, Long Road Distillers has shifted from producing Michigan-made craft spirits to Michigan-made hand sanitizer in order to help meet the tremendous needs of the community during the current outbreak. To help speed up the process, the Grand Rapids distillery has partnered with several Michigan breweries to provide beer that can be distilled and converted into ethyl alcohol, the primary ingredient in hand sanitizer.
“We have all of the equipment on site to produce hand sanitizer from scratch,” said Jon O’Connor, co-owner of Long Road Distillers. “Our two large stills allow us to take fermented grain or fruit and turn it into 190 proof neutral spirit, much like we do in the process of producing our vodka.”
For Long Road, the pinch point in speeding up production is fermentation capacity. To overcome that roadblock, they are now working with several Michigan breweries who are providing beer that can be run through the still. To date, Long Road has partnered with The Mitten Brewing Company, Founders Brewing Company, Perrin Brewing Company and Shorts Brewing Company. Some of the beer had been kegged for restaurant use, while some was brewed by the companies specifically for the purpose of distilling into sanitizer.
“The craft beverage world has always been about creativity, excellence and service,” said Chris Andrus, co-owner of The Mitten Brewing Company. “This effort is just a natural extension of that; quickly working together to solve problems and meet a need in our community.”
So far, Long Road Distillers has worked with nearly 300 health care providers, nursing homes, grocers, social service agencies and other essential businesses to provide sanitizer to keep patients, residents, employees and customers safe. Their ability to offer this is due in large part to those who have come to the support of the distillery at this time.
“We’re fortunate to have such a collaborative beverage community in Michigan!” exclaimed Kyle VanStrien, co-owner of Long Road Distillers. “The willingness of our friends to step up and help us in this effort has certainly been one of the brightest silver linings during these difficult days.”
Long Road Hand Sanitizer is available for purchase in individual spray bottles and in bulk refill jugs, with primary focus given to front-line providers and essential businesses and their employees at this time. Interested organizations may submit inquiries about procuring sanitizer through Long Road’s website: www.LongRoadDistillers.com/handsanitizer/
A limited number of individual spray bottles are being sold to the public through the distillery’s weekly take-out service, and orders must be placed in advance through the takeout link on their website. Pick-up of sanitizer, as well as cocktail kits and bottles-to-go are offered Thursdays (12-5p) and Fridays (12-6p) in Grand Rapids, and Saturdays (10a-2p) from their Grand Haven location. Long Road Hand Sanitizer can also be found at several local retailers.