Tuesday, March 24th, 2020
This brew is sanitized for your protection
By Sydney Albert
Hand sanitizer from Gnarly Beard Co. is a new product from Vance Nation introduc. . .
CELINA - Something different is brewing these days at 110 S. Main St.
Many people know Brew Nation and Lake Rat Brewing Co. for their food, beer and live events, but the local hangout has been closed since Gov. Mike DeWine's executive order barring dine-in dining and drinking due to the coronavirus pandemic.
People can still order carry-out, just as they can from many other local eateries, but they can also order a product a little different from what they might usually buy at the establishment - hand sanitizer.
To fill skyrocketing demand for sanitizer, Vance Nation, owner of Lake Rate Brewing, is using equipment from the brewery and from another company he recently acquired, Gnarly Beard Co., to produce Gnarly Hand Sanitizer.
"Hand sanitizer has gotten hard to find because of the shortage of alcohol and a large demand. So we were fortunate that we had an outlet for it," he said.
Nation began to shift production to hand sanitizer after reading about the shortage. He went onto the World Health Organization's website and found a basic, standardized recipe for making the product. With equipment from his brewery and some he had acquired through purchasing Gnarly Beard, he started making sample batches. When those turned out well, he posted information on Facebook and Gnarly Beard's website, gnarlybeardco.com.
Orders began to stream in, according to Nation. He said the product has gotten the attention of several large, local corporations who have had trouble getting hand sanitizer from other suppliers. On Sunday, Nation said the company made more than 100 1-ounce bottles of hand sanitizer, which they sell for $5 to individuals. On Monday morning, they sold out.
It takes about four hours to make a batch of sanitizer, with each batch equating to about 150 gallons. Nation said the product would continue to be made as long as it kept selling, and he doesn't see any issues in that regard for the foreseeable future. Along with local demand, the company has received online orders from places as distant as Kansas, Vermont, Alabama and Texas, Nation said.
Gnarly Beard was mostly an internet-based business when Nation acquired it from its previous owner, a retired veteran in Fort Wayne, Indiana. The beard care company focused on making products such as oils, butters, washes and conditioners, but the hand sanitizer will likely become a permanent part of the line, Nation said.
"This virus has shut down our restaurant and has shut down our brewery, and we're just trying to diversify so we can stay in business."
They aren't the only ones shifting gears. According to Nation, a lot of people with the equipment on hand are making the change, at least temporarily, to get into the hand sanitizer business.
"The government has changed their methods for dealing with people who produce alcohol, for example liquor and ethanol and things like that. They've approved this type of utilization for distilleries throughout the Unites States, so a lot of distilleries that were shut down, like our restaurant here is, are ramping up production for the same type of product for the region," he said.
With the brewery, the tanks and the "scientific know-how" on hand, it was just a matter of getting the product approved and finding people willing to buy it, Nation said.
If all continues to go well, he will continue working toward his goal of becoming a major supplier of hand sanitizer.