Local brewery making sanitizer for Cape Cod public safety agencies

FALMOUTH – With a shortage of hand sanitizer across the state, two local Cape Cod businesses are working together to help local police, fire, and healthcare workers using a unique process. They’re distilling unused beer into ethanol to produce hand sanitizer.

While the company had been planning for a Spring 2020 opening of a new location in Mashpee, Cape & Islands Distilling found their focus has shifted with the outbreak of coronavirus and turned to what will soon be a new neighbor to lend a hand.

“A few weeks ago, people began coming out of the woodwork trying to get sanitizer and it’s been snowballing. People are getting kind of desperate,” said Andrew McCabe, founder of AstraLuna Brands that owns Cape & Islands Distillery.

The unique process of creating the sanitizer uses their still that typically makes vodka. From there, the donated beer is distilled to 192 proof.

“We were fermenting as much as we could, but couldn’t keep up and said, ‘Where else can we get it?’,” he said.

That is where breweries like Bad Martha in Falmouth come in. “Think about it: every bar around has been told its customers have to leave. All of their stuff is just sitting there and expiring. That’s hundreds of kegs that we can turn into vodka,” said McCabe.

A company built on their slogan “Get Bad. Do Good.”, Bad Martha General Manager Josh Flanders helped to coordinate the brewery’s efforts to help a cause that would directly benefit those on the front lines of the Coronavirus outbreak.

“When we were approached to donate beer, we were glad there was a way that we would be able to help out during this time of crisis,” said Jacobi Reid, Head Brewer at Bad Martha Beer who alongside Flanders donated 16 kegs and says they are hoping to send more in the future.

The process, Reid explains, was one that he felt was both convenient & safe for all parties involved that allowed both businesses to act fast in working together.

“We left the pallets outside, they came and loaded them into their van so there was no contact, and they’ll be returning the empty kegs next week. It was a very easy and collaborative process.”

Just how much hand sanitizer is being produced? McCabe said thanks to donations from breweries like Bad Martha, they will be able to produce 800 bottles by the end of next week. Following standards set by the World Health Organization, the finished product is 80% pure making it medical grade.

“We’d donate when we can to police, fire, post office, nursing homes, healthcare providers, pharmacies. There’s a woman making fabric masks for healthcare workers, so we gave her a bunch to send with them. It’s a whole new avenue for us,” said McCabe.

“Our thought was, if we can just make enough product that the nursing home is covered or these home healthcare workers are covered, that could save a lot lives and that’s just us doing our part.”

By Emmalyn Reid, Cape Wide News

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