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Japan brewers team up to make alcohol disinfectant from unshipped draft beer

Samples of 70% alcohol disinfectant made from beer are seen in this photo provided by Kiuchi Brewery Inc.

TOKYO -- Asahi Breweries Ltd. and Kirin Brewery Co. have announced that they will jointly make alcohol disinfectant for medical institutions from draft beer that they have been unable to ship to restaurants and other establishments due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

As many eateries and bars have had to temporarily shut down or shorten their operating hours due to the spread of the virus, beer makers have been left with stocks they can't ship.

In early April, long-established sake maker Kiuchi Brewery Inc. in the city of Naka, Ibaraki Prefecture, northeast of Tokyo, was asked to help tackle the shortage of alcohol disinfectant by the prefectural government.

Kiuchi Brewery then asked Asahi and Kirin, which have factories in Ibaraki, to provide stocks of beer. The two companies agreed that they should make use of their beverages rather than wait for their expiration dates, and brought in a total of 24,000 liters of draft beer to a distillery at the brewery.

Kiuchi Brewery plans to use the beer to make a 70% alcohol disinfectant, put the solution in 1,260-liter bottles, and donate the items to the prefectural government and four municipal governments in Ibaraki. The solutions will reportedly be used at local medical institutions and other facilities.

Along with Asahi and Kirin, Suntory Holdings Ltd. and Sapporo Breweries Ltd. -- which together make up Japan's four major beer makers -- are temporarily accepting returns of beer left unsold at eateries and bars and are discarding the beverages.

When asked about the initiative, an official with Kirin said, "There are health care workers and others who are working hard, and we want to contribute to the local community."

(Japanese original by Yuki Machino, Business News Department)

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