Staff at a White Rock brewery are tapping into a slightly different skill-set these days in an effort to help minimize the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
3 Dogs Brewing has turned its efforts to making hand sanitizer – an endeavour that, “quite frankly a few months ago we never in a million years would have foreseen ourselves doing,” Pam Glazier, co-owner of the craft brewery, located at 1515 Johnston Rd., said.
However, as it became clear there was an urgent need for hand and surface sanitizer with a high alcohol content, the decision to shift focus was an easy one, Glazier said.
“We saw a need in our community and we have the ability to respond. It would be un-Canadian not to do so.”
The first recipients of 3 Dogs’ initial batch were members of White Rock RCMP and White Rock Fire Department as well as HandyDART employees.
“It is a way we think the people can support those on the front lines as well as have a product that makes them and everyone safer,” Glazier said.
The sanitizer was provided in one-litre aluminum cans, at no charge, and will continue to be offered for free to frontline workers as long as demand remains.
Getting personal protective equipment (PPE) for HandyDART drivers has been a challenge, Steve Campbell, a health and safety committee member with HandyDART, wrote in an email to Peace Arch News.
Campbell, whose stepson works at 3 Dogs, asked his employer whether there was any interest in receiving hand sanitizer for drivers and other staff.
“They were excited to be part of it and they suggested that they would donate to a local charity that 3 Dogs gets behind quite often, that would be the local SPCA,” Campbell wrote.
To help offset production costs, 250 ml bottles are also being offered by donation to the general public.
“The donation will be used to purchase more dextrose and yeast to make more hand sanitizer for the front line workers and first responders,” Glazier said.
However, if there are people who need the sanitizer and can’t afford to make a donation, they will get it regardless, she added.
As far as the process of making sanitizer rather than beer, the switch was a fairly simple one, Glazier said, noting that the brewery already had all the equipment required, except for a pair of condensers, which 3 Dogs’ supplier was able to provide within two days.
To make hand sanitizer, they needed to up the alcohol content over what is typically found in beer.
They switched to fermenting a high dextrose and water (basically sugar-water) base and using a yeast that was able to work with the higher concentrations. This results in a fermented product – called “wash”– that is in the 20 per cent alcohol by volume (ABV) range. By heating the wash to 87 C the alcohol is vaporized and the vapour (basically alcohol steam) is collected and run through a condenser that turns it back into a liquid.
The result is an ethanol alcohol that is around 90 per cent ABV. This is then mixed with food-grade glycerin, food-grade hydrogen peroxide and distilled water. The end result is a hand sanitizer that meets the World Health Organization’s recommended formulation of 75 per cent alcohol, 1.45 per cent glycerin and 0.125 per cent hydrogen peroxide.
If there has been one challenge, Glazier said, it is in finding enough small bottles to fill for the public.
Like many things at the moment, they’re tough to get a hold of and Glazier is hoping someone in the community can help her connect with a supplier. Anyone who is able to help is asked to contact Glazier at 604-619-7499.
In the meantime, 3 Dogs will carry on producing the disinfectant and distributing it to the best of their ability.
“It is the right thing to do,” Glazier said.
“The people of White Rock and South Surrey support us in good times, it is the least we can do to to support them in bad times. White Rock helping White Rock.”