A bottle of the Creature Comforts hand sanitizer sits on the sidewalk. Creature Comforts serves customers on foot and for drive-thru with both alcoholic beverages and hand sanitizer on April 17, 2020, in Athens, Georgia. (Photo/Kathryn Skeean, kskeean@randb.com)

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, Creature Comforts Brewing Company has repurposed its equipment and workspace to produce hand sanitizer for the community.

The brewery’s “Clean Creature” hand sanitizer was introduced on April 9. As other breweries around the state, such as the Old Fourth Distillery in Atlanta, began pivoting toward repurposing distilled alcohol into sanitizer, Creature Comforts saw the need in the Athens community, said Creature Comforts CEO Chris Herron.

After evaluating the type of facility Creature Comforts occupies, the company found it could be approved by the Food and Drug Administration to produce hand sanitizer, Herron said.

“It was challenging to source ingredients necessary for production, but we have been fortunate to receive what we need from our local suppliers,” Herron said. “It’s also been incredible to watch the things our 100 employees have accomplished together to pivot and produce Clean Creature.”

The sanitizer is packaged in 500 mL bottles, with each bottle costing $8.49, according to the brewery. Customers are limited to purchasing two bottles per person through its drive-thru ordering system, which allows the sale for its beer.

The process of making the hand sanitizer included working with local suppliers to acquire necessary ingredients, repurposing equipment they already had and creating a new label for the product. To package the hand sanitizer, Creature Comforts used its own recycled beer bottles. In just two weeks, they were able to get started.

The production of Clean Creature has allowed the entire team at Creature Comforts to remain fully employed, Herron said.

“Our staff is making the same pay as they were receiving and being paid for the same number of hours before the pandemic started,” Herron said.

Herron said the company has also been fortunate enough to provide an ample supply of hand sanitizer to its Get Comfortable nonprofit partners, which include Advantage Behavioral Health Systems and Athens Area Homeless Shelter, among others.

Creature Comforts is still focusing on producing beer for its contactless drive-thru service model at the brewery, but the brewery is excited to also offer sanitizer during a shortage in the community, said Herron.

“We hope to continue to live out our purpose and values as an organization,” Herron said. “When this is all said and done, we want people to say, ‘Creature cares about connecting people with each other and being connected with the community.’”

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