Riley’s Brewing churning out sanitizer


Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune

Dan Riley of Riley’s Brewing looks on to make sure the machine filling bottles with hand sanitizer is working properly.

Usually Dan Riley’s brewing company would produce about 50,000 bottles of vodka and beer a week. However, since he has tuned his distillery into a hand sanitizing production, his company is producing more than 200,000 bottles a week.

“We’re making sanitizer, which is according to the World Health Organization guidelines,” Riley said. “It’s 80 percent ethanol, which is nasty stuff. It will kill anything on contact. We put them into 12 ounce bottles. It’s designed to kill germs before it gets into the skin.”

When the pandemic hit, Riley’s Brewing was producing beer at a one-third capacity. Now, he has had to hire more than 20 people and is producing Riley’s Hand Sanitizer day and night.

At first, Riley began making the sanitizer for his friends. Those friends told their friends and it just exploded from there.

“We are allowed to make sanitizer because of the shortage,” he said. “This is only the start of week 5 for us. We went from filling a few dozen cases to help out to now we’re doing 200,000 bottles a week.”

However, the first people to receive the sanitizer are the front-line workers, the first responders that are in need.

“We donate all we can to the hospital, probation to wherever we have to,” he said. “For commercial purchase for Madera, we have it at GBS, State Foods, Chevron in the Ranchos, Von’s, Safeway, Napa Auto Parts. We’re getting it out to the chains, as well.”

Riley started producing sanitizer to help people out, but found out that it is more than that. He has been able to employ some of his workers from closed restaurants, including his own, Riley’s Brew Pub.

“We did it to help people out and now there’s a demand,” he said. “Everybody wants it. We were able to apply ourselves and put our industry back in.”

Riley said he tries to keep the price competitive with some of the name brands. Also, when the stores run out and he has to re-stock, it allows Riley to use those profits to help donate to first responders.

“If people buy our stuff in the stores, it empowers me to keep giving away to the first responders,” he said. “It makes me comforted that we are filling a need. I get emails every day from someone saying thank you because they had nothing and couldn’t find it. We even had CalFire show up and gave them a few cases. We had the coroner show up because he was out. We make sure Jay (Varney) is taken care of. We make sure our first responders are taken care of before anyone else. They get first dibs.”

Riley also tries to do what he can to keep all of his production locally.

“I do everything I can to buy everything locally,” he said.

Because the demand is so high, Riley is having trouble keeping up with the demand.

“There is no end in sight,” he said. “Even working two shifts day and night, as soon as we get one shipment out, we’re already behind. I’m not even close to keeping up.”

Riley’s Beer fans don’t have to worry, Riley said. Once the restaurants open, beer will begin production. However, the sanitizing production won’t stop.

“When the restaurants open back up, we’re definitely brewing a bunch of beer, again,” he said. “Beer is not going away. This (the pandemic) is not going away anytime soon. We’re expecting another year. This sanitizer thing is forever. We’re not going away.”

However, Riley is humbled when he hears of stories of people that are in need of sanitizer and have been able to get it through his company.

“Some of the stories that get you are from some of the people with a low immune system,” Riley said. “It’s the stories like that that people don’t realize that we make sure these people are taken care of. That puts a smile on my face.”

Riley said to visit his website to see a complete list of stores that carry his sanitizer He also has distributors Jorgensen Co. and Saladinos so industrial and food safety companies also has access to his sanitizer.

Where to purchase Riley’s Hand Sanitizer:

GBS Hardware

State Foods Supermarket

Chevron (Madera Ranchos)

Vons’s

Napa Auto Parts

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