LAFAYETTE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Many businesses have had to shut down, but a Lafayette distillery that’s been supplying Central New York with alcohol for years is changing its operation to better help those on the front lines of COVID-19.

Beak and Skiff’s 1911 Established Distillery is known for its ciders — but for the time being, instead of canning cocktails, the only spirit the team will be shipping is hand sanitizer, specifically for first responders and medical workers.

“We saw there was a huge need for personal protection equipment and lots of that out in the community,” said Beak and Skiff President Eddie Brennan. “We make ethanol on a daily basis through our distilled products. At the end of the day, 95% of what’s in a hand sanitizer is ethanol and we figured we could really pull together and help.”

A TTB law was changed so distilleries could join the fight again the coronavirus pandemic. Now, 1911 tanks are filled with ethanol, glycerin, hydrogen peroxide, and a key ingredient they just so happens to have.

“In our case, we’re gonna be using apples cause we have a lot of apples,” said Brennan. “You made a hard cider, you get that to about 8 percent alcohol, from there you distill it. So we’re gonna create that, distill the ethanol, and then from there we’re gonna create the hand sanitizer.”

They’re also working around another shortage — bottles for the hand sanitizer. The plan is to use their own cider or coffee packaging to arm as many people on the front lines of COVID-19 as they can.

“Whether it’s local hospitals, first responders, police officers, firefighters that really liked this. So if we can get it to them in a 5-gallon bucket, we’ll get it to ’em in a 5-gallon bucket. If we can get it in a prettier package we’ll do that too,” said Brennan.

They have the tools, and Brennan says they want to be there for a community that’s always been there for them.

“They’ve always turned out for us over the years whether it’s buying hard cider at the grocery store or coming to pick apples, and it feels like in a time like this we can really step up and maybe support our local community in a different way,” said Brennan.

On Thursday, Beak and Skiff announced their hand sanitizer will become available to the public online on Friday.

“We’re just gonna completely convert to hand sanitizer right now. Whether that’s a week or two weeks or a month,” said Brennan. “We put the post out there and actually overnight I received 4,000 emails from people who were looking for the product so I think that tells you a lot about how much need is out there right now.”

The focus in the short-term is on first responders, though Brennan says they will later look into how other individuals can get the products.

If you’re looking to find out more you can email or reach out to them on Instagram or Facebook.

On Saturday, President Donald Trump invoked the Defense Production Act to get needed medical supplies on the front lines of the coronavirus outbreak.

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