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Brewery planned to make hard seltzer but made hand sanitizer

Lazy Magnolia Brewing has been on the Mississippi Coast for 15 years.

They’re known for their ales, but as cases of the new coronavirus began to rise in Mississippi, co-owner Leslie Henderson saw something distilleries across the country were doing to help their communities.

The brewery had been looking at making flavored seltzers, thanks to the popularity of White Claw and other hard seltzers over the past year. But that project was put on hold.

Instead, they decided to use those materials to make something the community needed during the COVID-19 pandemic — hand sanitizer.

“We had a drum of denatured food-grade alcohol,” Henderson said. “We found a recipe from the World Health Organization to make an effective hand sanitizer.”

The hand sanitizer is a liquid consistency that Henderson suggested be put into a spray bottle. They combined the alcohol and glycerin or aloe to keep the hands moisturized. They also use filtered rainwater from the roof that’s normally purified and sold as Richard’s Rainwater.

The project was announced on the brewery’s Facebook page Monday afternoon (March 16). When Henderson arrived 45 minutes before the doors opened, people were already lined up.

“I honestly thought I’d be making a couple gallons a day, and giving it to friends, family and some employees,” Henderson said.

“It was completely unexpected. It recoups cost of materials, keeps people employed, and gives the community something it needs.”

One of the people to reach out was the Bay St. Louis Police Department, which had been asking for donations. Henderson made sure that she hand-delivered some bottles.

“That was the first thing I did,” she said. She also saved some bottles in reserve in case they needed more.

In keeping with the Centers for Disease Control guidelines, the brewery allowed 10 people at a time inside. People lined up at the door, some with their own containers and others ready to purchase spray bottles or metal growlers usually used for beer.

One by one, each person’s vessel of choice was filled with sanitizer running at 75 cents an ounce. Many community members came up to thank Henderson and her crew.

By 1 p.m. Tuesday, the brewery ran out of hand sanitizer. Henderson estimated about 50 people had come through their doors to buy hand sanitizer since they opened.

“The power of social media,” Henderson said.

While the brewery doesn’t plan on making hand sanitizer for long, they hope it can help their community until mass-produced bottles start populating the shelves again.

Lazy Magnolia has gotten creative after weathering multiple disasters and roadblocks in their 15 years on the Coast.

The brewery started the year Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast. They survived the BP oil spill, the 2008 market crash and most recently the Bonnet Carré Spillway’s impact on tourism.

This is another hard time they plan to help their community through.

“We really want to be something good,” Henderson said. “We had to get creative and keep people employed. That’s just in our nature now, to all get together… How can we be a positive in our community?”

— Alyssa Newton / SUN HERALD

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