Gwinnett distillery making hand sanitizer for neighbors, police

Betsey Dahlberg, co-founder of Hope Springs Distillery, fills a bottle with hand sanitizer. Photo credit: Hope Springs Distillery

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Betsey Dahlberg, co-founder of Hope Springs Distillery, fills a bottle with hand sanitizer. Photo credit: Hope Springs Distillery

A Lilburn distillery has switched its production schedule from spirits to hand sanitizer.

When Hope Springs Distillery started selling its first batch of sanitizer Friday, there was a line of cars from their door all the way to Lilburn’s Main Street for more than two hours, said co-founder Betsey Dahlberg.

“Everyone was very polite, but it was crazy,” Dahlberg said.

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Distilleries across the country have shifted to making hand sanitizer, which requires distilled alcohol, and many are donating or selling their products to hospitals, first responders or other front-line workers. Old Fourth Distillery in Atlanta, the first in the metro area to start sanitizer production, is providing its sanitizer to first responders.

With sanitizer sold out at many stores, Dahlberg and co-founder Paul Allen saw an opening to help more people in their community stay clean and healthy.

“I want to get it in as many households as possible,” Dahlberg said.

Hope Springs is selling the sanitizer at cost, making just enough to “keep the doors open,” Dahlberg said. It’s $7 for an eight-ounce bottle, with a limit of four bottles per person. They’ve also donated sanitizer to the Lilburn Police Department.

The distillery switched up its production on March 31, after trying to get their hands on the proper supplies for two weeks. When the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau waived federal permitting requirements for hand sanitizer production on March 18, there was a run on the necessary materials, Dahlberg said.

“It set off a scramble,” Dahlberg said. “Every distillery in the U.S. apparently was looking for the same ingredients at the same time.”

The alcohol used in hand sanitizer can be made from the same products that Hope Springs uses for their spirits, but they needed to get other items including glycerine and hydrogen peroxide. Finding small bottles for packaging was also a challenge, Dahlberg said.

But once everything was in hand, the distillery was making more alcohol than ever before, Dahlberg said. Usually they distill every other day, saving off days for sales calls, packaging or other business. Now, they’re making as much as they can. The sanitizer sold out over a two-day period last week. Multiple businesses have requested bulk orders, but Dahlberg is waiting to build up more stock; she doesn’t want to stop selling to individuals. Being able to play a part in keeping people safe has been rewarding for the small business, Dahlberg said.

“The worst thing about living through a pandemic is being stuck at home and not feeling like you can do anything to help anybody,” Dahlberg said. “Paul and I have this advantage of having a business that can help people and can do something.”

The distillery expects to sell sanitizer on Fridays and Saturdays from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. at 4839 Railroad Ave in Lilburn.

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