Sun King limits distribution to central Indiana

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By: Eric Strader
ericstrader69@gmail.com

Eric Strader/Flavor 574

Since opening in 2009, Sun King Brewing has been brewing award winning beer. In fact, the Indianapolis brewery took eight medals at the Great American Beer Festival in 2011, more than any other brewery.

Those of us in Michiana have been lucky enough to get both draft and package products from Sun King in recent years. However, that has all come to an abrupt end.

We will no longer see beers such as Osiris (American Pale Ale, 5.6% ABV), Wee Mac (Scottish Ale, 5.3% ABV), Fist Full of Hops (American IPA, 6.4% ABV) or Grapefruit Jungle (American IPA, 7.5% ABV) on the shelves or on tap at our local pubs.

According to Indiana state law, there is a cap of 30,000 barrels per year for small breweries, and Sun King is approaching that limit. Because of this, the brewery have decided to limit distribution only to Boone, Brown, Hancock, Hamilton, Hendricks, Johnson, Lawrence, Marion, Monroe, Morgan and Putnam counties. Sun King has ended all agreements with distributors outside of these areas.

If an Indiana brewery exceeds the 30,000 barrel limit, it cannot self-distribute its own beer or have an onsite tasting room. It is my understanding that if beer is sold outside of the state line, it is not considered part of the 30,000 barrel limit. However, Sun King is not interested in selling outside of Indiana at this time.

Co-owner of Sun King Brewing Clay Robinson told the Indy Star he estimates that 300 to 400 bars, restaurants and liquor stores outside of the distribution area will no longer receive shipments of Sun King products. This is sure to disappoint many people in Michiana.  

He went on further to tell the Indy Star, “We cannot grow our business anymore. We are in a weird position where we are trying not to sell more beer.”

Federal regulations define a small brewery as one producing up to 60,000 barrels and year and the Brewer’s Guild of Indiana is working to raise the state limit to “keep it in line with the federal definition of a small brewer.” This would help fast-growing Indiana breweries like Sun King, which has grown 35 percent over the last year.

According to Robinson,  the brewery has no plans at this time to sell out of state, but may consider in the future. For now, plans are to break ground in the spring for a production facility and taproom in Fishers, Ind.

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