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Eric Dornan (left) and his brother Jeff (right)
Eric Dornan (left) and his brother Jeff have halted beer production at All or Nothing Brewhouse in Oshawa to make hand sanitizer for local hospitals, front-line emergency workers and major utility companies. (Photo: submitted)

April 16, 2020

The All or Nothing Brewhouse, known for its craft beers, meads and distilled spirits, is now making hand sanitizer exclusively in the fight against COVID-19. Its co-founder, Seneca graduate Eric Dornan, says the decision to switch production, which included sacrificing $50,000 worth of whisky into the mix, was a no-brainer.

“It feels like a civic duty,” he said.

Mr. Dornan, who graduated from Seneca’s Business Administration – Entrepreneurship & Small Business diploma program, co-founded All or Nothing with his brother in 2014. Having just opened their current location in Oshawa last year after acquiring Trafalgar Ales & Meads, Trafalgar Artisanal Distillery and Black Creek Historic Brewery, Mr. Dornan says they are “positioned ideally” to produce hand sanitizer for local hospitals, front-line emergency workers and major utility companies.

“We have a large capacity of 25,000 square feet and a large quantity of cans on hand,” he said. “We have the infrastructure to push this out quickly.”

With a last-minute cosmetic licence issued by the government, an automated canning line in place for craft beer and a rush to set up the distillery equipment, All or Nothing made 33,000 10-ounce cans of hand sanitizer in less than two weeks.

Raw ingredients like pure white sugar and water — instead of barley and grain — were dumped into the distilling container to boil and ferment into 14 per cent alcohol as a base mash to build up to 95 per cent alcohol. Beer, gin, moonshine and thousands of litres of six-year-old whisky were also poured in for their alcohol content to help accelerate the process in the beginning.

“That was probably the most expensive batch of hand sanitizer we ever produced,” Mr. Dornan said with a chuckle.

Despite having to lay off a handful of part-time retailers as a result of temporarily closing the business to the public, Mr. Dornan says the 24-7 distilling operation has kept them busy, including his parents who are helping alongside seven employees.

“We realized early on that this isn’t going to be just one week of staying home,” said Mr. Dornan, whose sister-in-law is originally from Wuhan, China, and grew up in Canada. “We have been watching this situation unfold for a while and we were amazed at the demand for hand sanitizer.”

In fact, Mr. Dornan says he has already been contacted by about 250 organizations, including some from British Columbia and California, asking if he could ship hand sanitizer to them. In addition to nursing homes and hospitals, All or Nothing is now supplying Toronto Pearson International Airport.

Did you know?

Seneca recently donated 60 tubes of Lysol wipes and 10 jugs of disinfectant to Eagle Terrace Long Term Care Home in Newmarket. When diluted, each 4.75-litre jug of disinfectant will fill about 250 spray bottles.

“I’m a big proponent of believing that you could be doing anything,” Mr. Dornan said. “If you asked me 10 years ago if I’d be in the beer business, I’d say no. But here I am. And if you asked me a month ago if I’d be in the hand sanitizer business, I’d say no. But here I am. We can’t just stand here and do nothing.”