A new brew: GC native uses distillery to make hand sanitizer during COVID-19 pandemic

Grundy Center native Amanda (Myers) Bare (left) and her husband Ryan are the owners and operators of Century Farms Distillery in Spencer. They’ve been making hand sanitizer during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo courtesy of Amanda Myers Bare)
Robert Maharry
The Grundy Register

SPENCER- Since Grundy Center native Amanda (Myers) Bare and her husband Ryan launched Century Farms Distillery in Spencer, they’ve been focused on producing high-quality vodka and corn whiskey, but like many others around the country, the COVID-19 pandemic got them thinking about ways they could help.


When Governor Kim Reynolds ordered the closure of bars and restaurants around the state in late March, Bare realized that hand sanitizer would be in high demand, and they could make it themselves. Century Farms worked in conjunction with West-O brewery from the Okoboji-Spirit Lake area, using whiskey that they weren’t planning to bottle, creating a homemade concoction and giving it away for free.


From there, the calls came in from hospitals, first responders, fire chiefs, police chiefs and EMS workers, and with the help of a formula from the World Health Organization, Century Farms became a regional leader in the production of a crucial tool in fighting the spread of the virus while hiring additional workers in the process.


“It’s been a good thing. We’re really glad we can do this,” Bare said. “It was a little overwhelming as far as the initial response.”


With time, Bare has been able to fine tune her mixing and bottling methods, and she plans to continue to make hand sanitizer for as long as the need persists, whether it’s for a personal bottle or 20 gallons.


Although Bare and her husband only started the distillery in 2017 and opened it to the public last year, the business has taken off, and the current situation has offered them another opportunity to diversify their output.


“It’s something that we never expected to be doing, but I’m really glad we can,” she said. “There have been a lot of really great people from all over this region that we’ve been able to get hand sanitizer to… All sorts of people that really are on the front lines working.”


Throughout the pandemic, Bare, a 1991 GCHS graduate, has kept in close contact with family members back home in Grundy Center—especially her mother—and she’s been encouraged by the positive feedback she’s received.


And for once, businesses and agencies that order from a distillery aren’t in any trouble: they’re just trying to protect themselves during a pandemic.


“It’s been kind of a running joke,” Bare said. “That’s been kind of a lighter moment… Those are nice little stories.”


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