Booze Crews Band Together for Sanitizer Sales, Donations

Malahat Spirits Co., Ballast Point Brewing and other local breweries start churning out hand sanitizer

Malahat hand sanitizer
Ken Lee

A hand sanitizer made from distilled high-alcohol beer sounds like too tasty of an idea to waste onkilling the coronavirus, but desperate times call for desperate measures.

Booze brothers Ken Lee from Malahat Spirits Co., Chris Bradley of Ballast Point Brewing Company and a few other beermakers have joined their companies' forces to produce the germ-killing hand gel. The concoction often begins life as Ballast Point's Big Eye brew -- a whopping 14 proof beverage -- then makes the trip over to Malahat's Miramar distillery, which is normally engaged turning out rum and whiskey.

The mad scientists at Malahat then wave their magic-beer wands and turn the IPA (with the addition of some decidely untasty chemicals mandated by the FDA) into the 191-proof Malahat Spirits Sanitizer.

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"For three week straight, for 15-hour shifts, I've been running the still here to make enough ethanol to supply sanitizer to the community," Lee told NBC 7 on Tuesday.

Next comes bottling, in gallon and half-gallon jugs -- no, don't say 'GROWLERS" -- and 4-ounce containers. The majority of the sanitizer will then be donated to local hospitals, other health-care workers and first-responders, with some set aside for donations and sales to visitors to the Malahat Spirits Co.

"Before we sell any to the general public, my plan with the 4-ounce bottles is to open up the distillery to basically give one free bottle to folks who need it," Lee said. "Those who can … we will probably ask for donations."

Lee said that when he's satisfied he has met the demand for donations, Malahat will begin sales to the public.

"Still debating [the price]," Lee said. "Thinking for the smaller bottles, we're thinking maybe $5 for a bottle…. What we won't do is price-gouge."

Lee says sales are expected to take place Saturday from 12-4 p.m. at Malahat (8706 Production Ave., San Diego). Be sure to check the distiller's social media to confirm that time before you head out. Oh, and while you're at Malahat, nothing's stopping you from scoring a bottle of their locally-sourced rum or whiskey while you're at it. Now that, you can drink!

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