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Big Storm Brewing looking to produce hand sanitizer

By Staff | Mar 25, 2020

A Florida brewery with Cape Coral ties is doing its part to help with the shortage of hand sanitizer in the state.

Big Storm Brewing Co., operated out of Clearwater with a popular taproom location in Cape Coral, has filed paperwork with the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau to produce ethanol — the key chemical in hand sanitizer.

Big Storm will then blend the ethanol with other chemical compounds in guidelines set by the World Health Organization (WHO) to produce one gallon, finished good product of liquid-spray form hand sanitizer.

“Like most, we decided to do this after seeing the strain on supply for consumers, our first responders and our health care workers,” said LJ Govoni, president of Big Storm Brewing Co. “Luckily, we had already been planning to open a distillery in the next 18 months and were fortunate to have equipment readily available as a by product of that long-term planning.”

There is not yet a start date set in stone, as the company is awaiting the TTB approval of the application, though Govoni is hopeful it will come soon.

When approval does come, after a short “ramp up” period, Big Storm will work nearly 24 hours per day to create as much product as possible. Govoni estimates somewhere between 60-100 gallons of hand sanitizer per day can be concocted.

This will also help the company retain staff during this trying period.

“After a period of ramp-up — primarily driven by reinforcement of best practices regarding safety — we intent to operation our equipment 24 hours a day, so, yes, this will absolutely help keep our staff busy and will lead to the retention of staff in production and other areas of the business,” Govoni said.

So, what sets Big Storm apart from other brewers creating hand sanitizer? It’s the creation of ethanol.

Govoni said they can be different because they will have the ability to actually create — not combine already finished chemical agents together.

“It is important to know that breweries on their own are not capable of ‘making’ hand sanitizer unless they simply compound materials in accordance with the World Health Organization. A effort worthy of applause, but not what we are doing,” Govoni said.

Those agents are also in high-demand for a myriad of reasons around the world. By creating ethanol, Big Storm will not impose an additional strain or shortage of these products when creating its sanitizer.

Govoni said they also have many of the additional products needed other than ethanol at the brewery, and can make it stretch even more since they will be creating ethanol in-house.

“We decided to focus a significant portion of our efforts on producing a liquid spray form verses the traditional aloe vera-blended product more retailer customers are use to,” Govoni said. “The need for an ethanol license is to use our best asset — fermentation vessels — to turn high ABV ‘beer’ into mostly pure ethanol which will be blended and packaged in accordance with WHO standards.”

They will also have three stills in which they can produce the chemical before combining.

Once they produce these one gallon bottles, they will be distributed. Just to who and when is still up in the air.

“We are working on that right now,” Govoni said. “We have a few agencies and businesses asking for our capacity. We do not want to over promise and under deliver but intend to go to a 24-hour operation post the ramp-up I previously mentioned.”

– Connect with this reporter on Twitter: @haddad_cj