Fit For A King: Sun King Brewing’s New ‘Destination’ Brewery And What It Means For Fishers
Fishers just upped its cool factor about 10 notches with the announcement that Sun King Brewery has chosen Fishers as the site of its second brewery. And it won’t be just a brewery either, it will have a tasting room, a beer garden and lots of other amenities that will make it a destination for people around the state.
If that sounds like big dreams to you, don’t dismiss it until you hear about the astounding success of the company doing the dreaming. In a span of just five short years, Sun King has built a huge following at its downtown Indianapolis location on Capital Avenue, catapulting it to the ranking of second-largest craft brewery in the state. According to co-founders Clay Robinson and Dave Colt, both brewers with a decade of experience, they had a goal when they started the business in 2009 of producing 5,000 barrels of beer by their fifth year. This year, 2014, is their fifth year and they produced 30,000 barrels which is six times their goal. When asked if they are surprised by their huge success, Colt said, “That’s an easy yes.”
Robinson credits their success to a mixture of things including Hoosiers wanting to buy local. “We’ve seen a huge interest in local beer and craft beer and supporting other businesses in your community. That’s an excellent part of it,” he said. “We were kind of in the right place at the right time with the right attitude and then we have a great team.”
Colt says Sun King is unique.
“The thing that makes us different from other breweries around the country is that we are quintessentially Hoosier. We were all born in Indiana and went to Indiana schools and colleges and we care about our community deeply and I think our involvement illustrates that,” he said.
That community involvement includes making specialty beers for collaborative events like the recently-ended GenCon, the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, The Indianapolis Museum of Art, Second Helpings, Gleaners, Dress for Success, Indianapolis Public Schools and many others. For an ISO event, the Symphony wrote a brand new piece of music and Sun King created a special beer to match it and they then held an event to listen to the music and sip the beer.
Their success however means outgrowing their space. So they went looking for somewhere to expand.
They say there were a lot of great places, but Fishers had everything they were looking for.
“It comes down to the community that really welcomed and embraced us the most and also had things that we were looking for on our box to check off. We needed some interstate access because we’re going to be moving product around the state. We also wanted to be involved in a community that really wanted us and also had the land that we need to continue to grow. So it was a multiple of factors,” Robinson said. “At the end of the day, the young, aggressive, entrepreneurial spirit that the group in Fishers, especially Scott (Fadness), mayor pro-tem, is putting together is an attractive package – it was hard to say no.”
About the package which was approved by the Town Council Aug. 18, Fadness said: “It’s pretty straightforward and is a waiver of impact fees along with a guaranteed commitment that would allow them to capture the taxes that would be generated off their parcel for the next 25 years.”
He went on to say that there is no new cost to taxpayers and at the end of 25 years all that property tax value goes back on tax rolls.
“They did an economic impact study that showed that on an annual basis, a $19.5 million economic impact to the community for having it in the community. So, when you are looking at capturing what would equate to probably $100,000 in property taxes annually versus the $19.5 million annual impact to our community, I think any reasonable person would say that’s a good investment,” says Fadness.
A bike and running path will be installed along Kincaid Drive, connecting 106th Street to the new brewery, enhancing Fishers’ trail system and making access to Sun King easy.
Sun King is investing an estimated $10 million in the brewery which they hope to open by July 1, 2015. They are buying nearly 13 acres of land at the southeast corner of Kincaid Drive and Park Central Drive and hired Ratio Architects, the local company that built the Indiana State Museum to design the building which both Colt and Robinson say will incorporate elements that reflect Indiana.
“We don’t want to build a big concrete box. We want to build a place that is attractive and looks great. We want to have a tasting room that can hold three or four hundred people and have some private room space. We want to be an amenity to Fishers. A place where you can ride your bike down and stop in, sample some beer and see what Sun King is all about,” said Robinson.
They envision having tours, growing barley and hops on the property so people can see the full life cycle of beer, and holding regular events that include food trucks to showcase other local businesses.
“Their vision is pretty unique and pretty extraordinary and absolutely will cause a halo effect and other restaurants and businesses in Fishers will benefit from having this in our community,” said Fadness.
Founded in 2009
Founders: Clay Robinson and Dave Colt
Products: House beers Sunlight Cream Ale, Osiris Pale Ale and Wee Mac Scottish-style Ale plus seasonal and specialty beers
Availability: on tap and in cans at hundreds of locations around Central Indiana
Awards: multiple medals at the Indiana Brewers Cup, Great American Beer festival and World Beer Cup competitions