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Koval Distillery Now Turning Donated Beer Into Free Hand Sanitizer For Nonprofits

Koval shifted from making spirits to making hand sanitizer after global supplies ran short.

Sonat Birnecker Hart, founder and president of Koval Distillery.
Koval Distillery
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RAVENSWOOD — After supplying free hand sanitizer to retirement homes, first responders and health care workers, Koval Distillery is now donating to nonprofits struggling to find supplies amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The award-winning distillery, known for its whiskey and gin, switched to producing hand sanitizer in March to address the nationwide shortage.

The latest batch of Koval hand sanitizer is being made, in part, from beer donated from Chicago area breweries.

“The draft beer supply we were going to sell before this shutdown was just sitting there waiting to go bad,” said Tracy Hurst, co-founder of Metropolitan Brewing. “Koval grew up next to us on Ravenswood before we moved and we’ve known [co-owner] Sonat [Birnecker Hart] for a long time. When she called we thought this was a great idea and a much better use for all that draft beer.”

In addition to Metropolitan, local breweries and wineries like Urban Renewal Brewery, Begyle Brewing, Great Central Brewing Company, Midwest Coast Brewing Company, Temperance Beer Co., Goose Island, Lakeshore Beverage, Bud Light, Kinslahger, Oak Park Brewing Company and Vin312 Winery gave 15,000 gallons of their beer and wine to Koval.

Chicago’s craft beer sales have taken a hit due to the state’s coronavirus shutdown. Keg sales have evaporated as restaurants and bars are limited to take out and delivery service. 

Koval’s is distilling all that beer and wine into about 550 gallons of hand sanitizer and expects to start delivering it to nonprofits at the beginning of May. Some of the nonprofits are Metropolitan Family Services, TASC and El Valor.

“We’re so grateful to the brewery and wine community coming together to help us fight this,” said Hart, the founder and president of Koval. “We’re still lining up nonprofits to donate to before we finalize the delivery dates for this particular shipment.”

Koval continues to be able to donate to those in need thanks to an successful GoFundMe campaign that’s raised over $71,498 so far.

Last week the distillery also started selling its sanitizer to the public

Credit: provided
Koval Distillery is making hand sanitizer that is free for the city’s medical community and first responders.

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Block Club Chicago’s coronavirus coverage is free for all readers. Block Club is an independent, 501(c)(3), journalist-run newsroom.

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