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A hand sanitizer run doesn’t sound as thrilling as a beer run, but the COVID-19 pandemic dictates market forces.

So Riley’s Brewing in Madera is stepping up to meet the demand for hand sanitizer.

“It’s a matter of how many (bottles) can we get in the hands of people that need it,” owner Dan Riley told GV Wire by Zoom on Tuesday morning.

Free for First Responders

When the brewery started the transition to sanitizer five weeks ago, getting cases of the much-needed virus killer into the hands of first responders was a priority.

“As a matter of fact, this morning, for example, the Fresno State Police Department showed up and they got a few cases from us to help out. Of course, that’s all donated,” Riley said.

How many cases has he donated to first responders?

Riley said he doesn’t know exactly but it’s “in the thousands.”

Photo of Dan Riley with bottles of hand sanitizer

Riley’s Brewing owner Dan Riley has responded to the pandemic by making hand sanitizer. (Riley’s Brewing)

Orders From Everywhere

Riley’s manufactures about 5,000 gallons of sanitizer daily. The production line runs 18 hours a day to fill the orders coming in.

Orders from New Mexico and Nevada, as well as from local distributors, are flooding phone lines and his website, Riley said.

Riley said he juggles the orders to ensure there are plenty of bottles for local hospitals, coroner’s offices, and police, fire, and other frontline workers.

Small Army Needed

“I’ve hired about 24 people, brand new for this line. And my first call was to bring everybody back from Riley’s Brew Pub, and then the Elbow Room, to bring them back instead of sitting at home on unemployment,” said Riley. “And we’ve actually got more resumés than I have jobs to fill.”

The brewery remains in full operation because beer sales are down only about a third since the pandemic began, Riley said.

It’s Not Thick, and It Doesn’t Smell Like Roses

“We are not allowed to make it smell good,” explained Riley. “We’re not allowed to make it thick, and we’d be noncompliant with the FDA if we did. So when people say ‘gosh it’s too thin,’ or ‘how come it doesn’t smell like roses anymore? I’m not allowed (to change it) due to the FDA’s own rules.”

Riley says the sanitizer has to be 80% ethanol by FDA guidance.

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