EDMONTON -- During his playing days in the CFL, part of Kevin Lefsrud’s job was helping protect the quarterback. Now, he’s trying to help protect his community from the spread of COVID-19.

The former Edmonton Eskimos offensive lineman is using his distillery to make hand sanitizer on his farm near Viking, Alta.

“It’s easer to make than drinkable alcohol, because you’re not having to worry about flavour,” said Lefsrud, who retired from the CFL in 2007 and started making liquor products from honey about six years ago.

“I make vodkas and you can make gins and whiskeys,” said Lefsrud. He switched up his operation after he and other producers like him began receiving calls from people frantic to find hand sanitizer when the pandemic hit.

“Everyone started seeing the need and then you start getting phone calls and people are crying on the phone and they’re just absolutely in tears because they need it to keep their businesses open...you can’t say no very long."

The 43-year-old uses a 100-gallon still to pump out thousands of bottles of sanitizer.

“Hospitals want it. Caretakers want it. Groups homes,” said Lefsrud, who was initially giving away the sanitizer but recently received a bar code from Health Canada, which means he has to charge. However, Lefsrud says he plans to keep the prices low. 

“I’m a farmer and I used to play CFL football. Neither one of them have made me any money, so might as well get into booze, and that didn’t make me a whole lot of money, so maybe sanitizer will. Who knows?”