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Steel Hands, Southern Essence partner to donate gallons of hand sanitizer

The 14-15 gallons of hand sanitizer will be donated to the Cayce Department of Public Safety

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Instead of bubbles and an amber glow, Steel Hands is turning one of its beers potent and clear, with the help of Southern Essence Distilling.

As the brewery off Foreman Street in Cayce sits empty due to the coronavirus, master brewer Doug Smith said they decided to donate a tank of pecan ale to make hand sanitizer.

“I've got 10 tanks in the back full of beer ready to go, that beer was ready to go to our canning line honestly, but I think going to hand sanitizer and helping the city of Cayce is more important. So, instead, we sent it down the street,” Smith said over FaceTime on Wednesday.

The beer, sometimes referred to as mash, was sent to Southern Essence Distilling to be made into hundreds of bottles of hand sanitizer.

Southern Essence owners Venetia and John Sharpe said it’ll be the latest production out of roughly 165 gallons of sanitizer they've made in the last three weeks.

They said they’ve donated to hospitals, first responders, UPS and FedEx drivers, the military, and others.

“Simply, we could do it, so we did do it,” John said.

“He's retired military, and we just feel like everybody needs to do their part during this time,” his wife, Venetia, added on the phone call.

The Steel Hands pecan ale will become about 14 to 15 gallons of hand sanitizer, which will be donated to the Cayce Department of Public Safety, after the distilling process is complete.

Cayce Mayor Elise Partin said it shows the heart of their community.

“These businesses are already involved in the community, and so for them to do this is really not that much of a surprise. That community involvement and kindness is how they've been operating in general,” Partin said over FaceTime.

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Southern Essence Distilling said they've made the equivalent of 5,200 4-ounce containers of hand sanitizer and have donated it all over the state. On Wednesday, groups from the Upstate and Charleston were coming to pick up more.

John and Venetia said due to dwindling supplies and funds, they’ll have to return to normal business operations on Friday.

The couple declined to say how much the last three weeks of hand sanitizer production has cost them and their business, saying it wasn’t important to the story.

Southern Essence Distilling makes vodkas, cordials, and other liquors and is located at 904 Frink Street in Cayce.

Steel Hands Brewing wanted the public to know it's not turning all its beer into hand sanitizer, to-go beer is available for pickup at the brewery from noon to 7pm, Monday through Saturday.

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