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Alabama distillery brewing up free hand sanitizer amid coronavirus crisis

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — In line with nationwide business closures amidst the growing coronavirus threat, many Central Alabama store owners have been forced to shut their doors. In Jefferson County, restaurants, breweries, and bars are able only to offer to-go or curbside delivery services.

With hardly any business, Birmingham’s premier distillery is keeping busy. Dread River Distilling Company is recycling alcohol that is typically discarded during the distilling process into sanitizing spray for local businesses running low on cleaning supplies. As per the label, this alcohol is not meant for consumption.

Dread River Distilling Company’s latest label is “not for consumption.” (Malique Rankin | CBS 42)

“Instead of just throwing it away, we’re going to repurpose it to help out the community a little bit. It’s pretty high proof, around 180, which we can then cut down to 70% alcohol,” said Carlton White, master distiller at Dread River.

Dread River employees are bottling the cleaning solution and distributing it to local businesses in need, free of charge.

“It’s just our way of trying to do something to give back to our community,” said John Cubelic, co-founder of Dread River.

Dread River founder John Cubelic and marketing coordinator Taylor Kelley unpacking sanitizing spray for local business owners (Malique Rankin | CBS 42)

Store shelves across the country have been cleared of any disinfectant products. According to Cubelic, it hasn’t been much easier to find containers for homemade cleaning supplies.

“We’ve had a hard time finding plastic bottles and a way to get [the hand sanitizer] out to people,” he said. “So, we’re starting to stockpile some of those.”

Dread River is also converting their leftover grain into dog treats, which will also be given out for free. And for those who are getting a little stir-crazy, the bartenders will be giving away some of their best cocktail recipes in how-to videos online.

The distillery began handing out sanitizing sprays to local businesses today. They’ll have bottles of hand sanitizers ready to be picked up by this time next week.

To learn more about Dread River Distilling Company and how you can help, click here.


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Aaron Nolan is a morning show co-host in Little Rock, Arkansas with Nexstar Media Group's KARK-TV. He has a passion for social media and makes it an important part of his daily routine. Click here to read Aaron's full bio.

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