NELSONVILLE, Ohio—Hocking College, Jackie O’s and other companies are teaming up to help Southeast Ohio’s first responders and healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
This week Hocking College’s Black Diamond Distillery in New Straitsville ramped up operations to make hand sanitizer from Jackie O’s beer.
Eric Hedin, a specialist and instructor in the Hocking College Fermentation Sciences program, reached out to area breweries and distributors for beer they weren’t going to sell.
Art Oestrike, president of Jackie O’s in Athens, responded with 4,800 cans of beer.
“Society needs this,” Oestrike said. “Southeast Ohio needs supplies. If I could make masks, I would. If I could make gloves, I would. If I could somehow find a bunch of ventilators, I would. Something I can do is provide an integral piece to provide hand sanitizer.”
“In a time of great need in our community, state, nation and world, this is something we can do easily to help,” Dean of Hocking College’s School of Workforce Development and Community Engagement Sean Terrell said. “We have the facilities, with Eric Hedin and Michelle Robinson we have the people and knowledge and with Jackie O’s, Watershed, Blue Label and Berlin Packaging we have the partners we need to make this product.”
Columbus-based Watershed Distillery provided time and expertise to assist in getting the college’s hand sanitizer recipe approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
Terrell said using those existing partnerships allowed the college to make the first run of hand sanitizer for free, aside from the cost of Hedin’s time.
“Now that we have the process in place, we hope to continue to make more runs of the sanitizer, faster,” Terrell said. “Future runs will go to local health departments, healthcare providers and be used on campus.”
Most of the first batch went to Hocking Valley Community Hospital in Logan. Terrell said some of the sanitizer will be given to businesses who donated to the production.
“The next batch will be ready at the end of the week,” Terrell said. He said there’s a big need for sanitizer among businesses, and that he’s talking to the Perry County Health Department about their needs.
Making hand sanitizer requires a base liquid with at least 91% alcohol by volume to be mixed with other ingredients.
Oestrike said the longest step of the process is getting that base liquid. Starting with something that already has a relatively high alcohol content speeds that up. Hedin said the beer Jackie O’s supplied has a 7.2% alcohol by volume content.
“Beer is an excellent feeder to create hand sanitizers,” Hedin said.
He’s distilling the beer more than four times to get the alcohol content high enough. He then mixes that distilled alcohol with glycerol and hydrogen peroxide, following a World Health Organization guide for making hand sanitizer.
In the first few days of production, Hedin said he opened more than 2,000 cans of beer.
“I got a blister on my finger the first day,” he said with a laugh. Since then, he’s adapted to using a bottle opener to save his fingers.
Hedin expects the beer to make more than 10 gallons of sanitizer. The initial run of ten gallons was given to Hocking Valley Community Hospital.
Both Hocking College and Jackie O’s are doing what they can to help the community.
Jackie O’s donated pizza twice to the staff at OhioHealth O’Bleness Hospital and plans to send pizza to the Athens City-County Health Department and other front line businesses. Oestrike said he plans to rotate the pizza deliveries to front line businesses and that Jackie O’s will continue to provide beer to make sanitizer.
Hocking College has donated supplies like gloves and masks from the college’s programs, and before the state’s stay-at-home order went into effect, donated 95 meal packages to The Hive of Nelsonville. The college is also connecting OhioHealth with partners to provide them with access to 3D printers to create nursing devices.
Jackie O’s Public House Restaurant and the Taproom and Brewery remain open for carryout orders only. The Public House is taking delivery and pick-up orders on the Jackie O's website at jackieos.com/order.
If companies are interested in donating the materials to make sanitizer, they can contact Hocking College Director of Special Projects and Community Engagement Michelle Robinson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about Jackie O’s operations during the COVID-19 pandemic visit, https://jackieos.com/notice-to-our-guests-regarding-covid-19/.
For more information about Hocking College’s operations, visit https://info.hocking.edu/coronavirus.