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One's Expired Craft Beer Is Another's Hand Sanitizer Ingredient

Amid the relentless pace of upsetting news related to the coronavirus pandemic, bright spots of ingenuity and compassion have shone through.

Here, that has ranged from dragonfruit bread and zero-dong grocery stores to rice ATMs and corporations shifting production to face masks and ventilators. Hand sanitizer distilled from craft beer that has gone past its "best by" date can now be added to this list.

"We had lots of beer set aside, but at times you have to cut," Chad Mitchell, CEO of Beervana Vietnam, told Saigoneer. "You don't want unsold inventory on your books."

Up in Hanoi, Lamont Wynn watched from his closed Turtle Lake Brewing Company as breweries and distilleries around the world pitched in to make hand sanitizer using their facilities. "I said, 'Hey, I have the capability here to distill, and I know Chad had some beer,' so I reached out to see if it was something Beervana would be interested in," Wynn shared.

Mitchell jumped at the chance and shipped five pallets of Melvin beer to the capital, though only after checking with the US-based brewery. "I wrote to them because sometimes brewers say that if you distill their beer that means it's bad, but they said this is in line with what they want to do," Mitchell recalled.

After receiving the huge shipment of beer, Wynn and his team began distilling, while also partnering with a designer from ALOUD Branding & Consulting, who ended up doing the graphic design and marketing for what is now called Sach.

"We're in Vietnam, we're fortunate to be here and the government is doing a really good job of containing [the virus], and this is us giving back to the community, saying thank you and doing our part," Wynn said.

Through the video of our Google Hangout call, Wynn showed me piles of Melvin cans and kegs ready to be distilled, though "a couple thousand liters doesn't produce much," he added.

The beer is distilled twice into pure grain alcohol, and the Turtle Lake team then follows the World Health Organization's guidelines on producing home-made hand sanitizer. The brewery plans to initially produce 500 bottles of hand sanitizer, which will be distributed to charity organizations and NGOs, in addition to being sent out with large delivery orders of Turtle Lake beer.

Fifty bottles have been sent to Saigon so far, which Beervana is sending out with orders, while also searching for organizations in need.

"The bottles haven't been certified by the government, so we can't give them to doctors or hospitals," Wynn explained. "We're looking to give it to disadvantaged homes and those who will take them. I can go through the certification process, but it's time-consuming and costs more. But we're very nerdy, and I knew we did it right...I'm not making bootleg hand sanitizer."

In addition to the 50 bottles shipped to Saigon, 250 bottles have been donated to the Blue Dragon Children's Foundation and Blossom House, both in Hanoi, while Wynn hopes to distribute elsewhere now that more businesses are re-opening. Turtle Lake Brewing has also re-opened, and a 100-milliliter bottle of Sach hand sanitizer now sits on every table.

"It's us giving our part, our donation," Wynn asserted. "I expect no money from this, it's just giving to the community. We want to be a socially responsible, community-based brewery."

If you or an organization are interested in receiving Sach hand sanitizer, contact Chad Mitchell at chad@beervana.asia.