If you’re a Hoosier and a fan of craft beer, you’re familiar with Sun King Brewery. When they opened their doors in 2009, they were the first full-scale brewery in Indianapolis in 60 years. Today, they are the state’s largest brewery and have won multiple awards.
Sun King Brewery has three locations in the Indianapolis area: a downtown brewery at 135 N. College Ave., a small batch brewery and tasting room at 7848 E. 96th Street in Fishers, and a new distillery and tap room at 351 Monon Boulevard in Carmel.
Sun King’s core beers are available year-round throughout Indiana and in Louisville and Chicago. These include their Sunlight Cream Ale, Wee-Mac Scottish-Style Ale, Osiris Pale Ale, SKB IPA India Pale Ale, and Pachanga Mexican-Style Lager. In addition to these beers, Sun King produces more than thirty other flavors seasonally and monthly. The full 2019 production schedule can be found on their website. At the Carmel location, Sun King collaborates with a variety of local and international distillers.
Here’s more on the brewery and its history from co-founder Clay Robinson:
Please tell me a bit more about yourself and how you got started with Sun King Brewery.
My name is Clay Robinson and I started brewing professionally twenty years ago at the Rock Bottom Brewery in Downtown Indianapolis. In 2005, I began working with my Sun King co-founder, Dave Colt, at the Ram Restaurant and Brewery downtown, and early on we started up a conversation over a beer that began with a simple question: What would you do if you could open your own brewery?
That conversation would last three year and encompass broad ranging cultural ideas about work place culture and community giving, as well as of course beer. In the summer of 2008, I left my job at the Ram, cashed in my 401k and set out to write the business plan and finally set things in motion for our proposed brewery…. A year later, Dave would join me and in July of 2009 we brewed our first batch of beer at Sun King, becoming the first full-scale production brewery in Indianapolis since the Indianapolis Brewing Company closed its doors in 1948.
What’s your favorite seasonal beer with Sun King?
The whole idea behind Sun King was to make as many seasonal and specialty beers as possible, so it’s really hard to say!?!? Each one is specifically designed to complement the time of year in which it is released, but if I had to choose then I’ll go with Grapefruit Jungle (GFJ IPA) which we make every year to celebrate our birthday/anniversary.
Can you tell us more about why you chose the location on 351 Monon Blvd, Carmel, IN? Did you see an opportunity to grow in this area?
My business partner Dave Colt is a Carmel resident, and over the years he has shared many a story about the great community that has been developing over the years… A few years back, Justin Moffet approached us about the Midtown Development he was spearheading and made it very clear that he wanted Sun King to be a part of it. Over time we became friends and the plan for the area became clear, and it was honestly a no-brainer to jump on board and expand our business along the Monon in the middle of such an amazing redevelopment project.
Do you have other planned expansions for 2019 or 2020?
This fall we will be opening a new Brewery, Food Hall/Cullinary Incubator in The Yard at Fishers District. It will replace our original small batch brewery on 96th street, and expand our ability to craft new seasonal and specialty beers, along with offering an array of food options.
With your brand-new distilling business, at least newer to me, what is your focus for this branch?
All distilled spirits start out as fermented beverages, so distilling is a natural extension of what we do at Sun King. We plan to make an array of spirits including Bourbon, Whiskey, Rum, Vodka, Gin, and an Agave spirit.
Do you have any new flavors planned for 2019?
We are always crafting new flavors and release over 50 new beers every year!
We saw you participated in Keep Indianapolis Beautiful. Do you participate in any other community driven events?
Sun King’s Community Development program works with over 500 local community and non-profit organizations to help execute over 800 events every year, support silent auctions, and help in any way we can. In 2018 Sun King was able to have an economic impact of over one million dollars through our efforts, and we plan to continue to work hard helping these organizations raise funds and spread the word about their good work in the community.
Last year, Indiana became the 41st state to allow Sunday liquor sales. How did that impact your business?
As a brewery in Indiana, we have legally been able to sell beer on Sunday for some time. The expansion of Sunday sales to all has led to a definite increase in sales, if nothing else because people visiting Indiana can purchase our beer at any licensed retailer any day of the week.
Any insider tips? I’m selfishly asking this as I am a devout fan and consumer of Sun King beer.
[[Featured blog photo from patternindy.com – https://www.patternindy.com/2017/08/13/8-years-of-sun-king-brewing/]]