Success Stories

Kingston Brewery Turns Impulse Buy into Opportunity to Give Back

You need the right equipment to make hand sanitizer. Regular beer breweries can’t get the alcohol concentration high enough to make your hands squeaky clean.

Fortunately, DAFT Brewing is not your regular brewery.

Kingston’s newest craft brewery had only been open for about two months when COVID-19 hit, forcing the team to shut down their taproom and raising a lot of questions about the business’ future.

As they were changing focus from the taproom to their retail store, owner and CEO Adam Rondeau remembered the 200-litre still he had ordered on a whim. He saw stories of distilleries making hand sanitizer and realized DAFT was in a position where they could lend a hand.

So, he went on the World Health Organization’s website, found the recipe, and dotted the t’s and crossed the i’s with Health Canada. But where would the company get the isopropyl alcohol, glycerine, hydrogen peroxide, bottles, labels, and all the other pieces they need?

Rondeau put the word out on social media. Within a week, the first 200 litres of hand sanitizer was produced and bottled, ready for local distribution to healthcare organizations.

“Bread & Butter Bakery donated 250 pounds of sugar basically within minutes of our original post,” Rondeau said. “It truly has been a community effort. Between Tri-Art Manufacturing and Parade of Paints, we had enough isopropyl alcohol, bottles, labels, and glycerine to make the first 400L."

Countless other local organizations have also pitched in, including Top Shelf Distillers, Fieldings Auto and Tire, Herc Rentals Kingston, Brew Culture, Collinson Custom Building, Cooper Equipment, Silicrest Storage, KIMCO Steel, AFCO and Zep, Noble, and Wesco Canada, along with anonymous donors. This diverse group helped DAFT get the ingredients together and transport them to the brewery which was no small feat, as that initial delivery included some 4,000 pounds of sugar!

“Our biggest challenge it seems won't be making the hand sanitizer but will be with trying to make enough of it and figure out the logistics associated with getting it into the hands of the countless groups who are in dire need of it,” he added. 

Making hand sanitizer hasn’t stopped DAFT from brewing up more of their delicious-tasting drinks, such as their unique IPAs, sours, stouts, and ales. While customers can’t stay for a sip during the pandemic, DAFT’s bottle shop remains open and they have taken the party to their fans with highly popular online beer and cheese pairing events.

It may not be where Rondeau and his team thought they would be three months in, but he remains grateful for the supportive community in Kingston that has allowed DAFT to succeed and find new opportunities.