Brickway Brewery & Distillery to make hand sanitizer amid COVID-19 shortage

Published: Mar. 23, 2020 at 5:34 PM CDT
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A key way to keep yourself healthy from COVID-19 is hand sanitizer, the problem is finding it in stores.

That simple fact is what inspired distillers at Brickway Brewery and Distillery to step in.

"We see the need out there on the news - I've seen pictures of firefighters going into homes and carrying people out on stretchers and they don't have any of the PPE that they need. And so then if we can at least get them some hand sanitizer, it'll help keep them safe," Zac Triemert, the head distiller, said.

For more than six years the crew at Brickway has been crafting liquor for a normally packed room.

The coronavirus outbreak has changed that.

"It's devastating," Triemert said. "We've had to lay off 9 people already."

Temporary changes to the law allow them to function as a liquor store, but Triemert knew they needed to be doing more.

He walked our crews back to their stills where they've been repurposed to help in the production of hand sanitizer.

"Imagine super high proof vodka that we then mix with aloe, hydrogen peroxide, and a little bit of essential oils," he said.

The hardest part of this process is actually the accessibility of aloe.

"It's hard to find and when we started buying it four days ago, I was getting it for $30 dollars a gallon and this morning I've paid over $95 a gallon," Triemert explained.

He's asking anyone in the community with access to supplies of aloe to reach out to him.

The empty tables and chairs at the distillery will be put to use later in the week. Staff who have been out of work because of the outbreak will be called in.

"We'll form us an assembly line and crack as many out as we can," Triemert said.

They have 2,000 bottles waiting to be labeled and filled and given to those on the front lines.

"To hospitals, to pharmacies, to our first responders," he said. "The Omaha police department, the Omaha fire department need these things badly."

Triemert plans to keep making bottles of sanitizer as long as they're needed, his mission is catching the attention of Nebraska's governor.

"This is just another example of why I'm so proud of Nebraskans. They do the right thing, they step up," Governor Ricketts said at a press conference in Lincoln. "They meet the challenges, we work together and that's how we will get through this public health emergency."

Once the sanitizer is in the hands of first responders, then he'll begin making it available for everyone else.

Since Triemert is not planning on making a profit on the hand sanitizer, he is asking for donations to keep things going on