09 Jun Tin Man Kokomo Brewing Becomes Sun King Kokomo Small Batch Brewery
Change comes for many reasons. Sometimes things go wrong and you need to change or die. Sometimes things are great, but you can make them better. For Amanda Lewton and her team in Kokomo, their change is more like being born again, but already having all the experience and goodwill gained from their first go round.
Tin Man Kokomo Brewing started as not a franchise of Tin Man Brewing in Evansville, but as a separately owned brewery that had the rights to sell Tin Man Beer, use the logos and branding, and then brew beers of their own. They even hired a Tin Man Brewing brewer to come make beers for them (Jack Sramek).
The arrangement worked well because Tin Man Evansville had good beer Kokomo could sell as they ramped up their own brewing program, and because Amanda’s team paid attention to the details of building a great relationship with their community. When Evansville closed, Kokomo remained viable and growing. True, the name did cause some confusion, but Kokomo still grew in experience and reputation. They developed a top-notch taproom, put on A+ events, and made great beer.
Now Kokomo is mimicking their birth by becoming Sun King Kokomo Small Batch Brewery. Reborn, still as an independent brewery with independent ownership, but instead of needing to build a reputation, a following, and experience, they get to start as a seasoned brewing operation – they’re just adding a relationship to one of Indiana’s most successful, most innovative, and most exacting breweries. It is now the best of Tin Man Kokomo Brewing and the best of Sun King Brewery.
Amanda told me about how the deal came about. She said, “I had reached out to Dave Colt with some questions about the brewery (he has always made himself available when I needed advice). Dave asked at that time if I would be interested in potentially changing the taproom to a Sun King location. I have reached out to Dave before for advice along the way and he has always been an amazing support so when he asked if I would be interested I was very excited at the opportunity to be a part of the amazing organization he and Clay have built together.”
By joining the Sun King Brewery brand, Kokomo’s 24 taps will be filled with Sun King core beers, Sun King, specialty beers, and Kokomo’s own beers. JD Alvarado, a Sun King brewer with a plan to open his own brewery in Puerto Rico will take over brewing duties for now (Jack has moved on to Bad Dad Brewing in Fairmount).
JD has been in the Kokomo brewhouse tweaking things here and there to put it in line with Sun King processes, so they are definitely ready to make beer. Being a small batch brewery is a popular choice nowadays – small enough to be very innovative, but with a big brewery behind them for stability, which affords them that freedom.
Kokomo will also have packaged beers from Sun King, including the King’s Reserve beers that northern Indiana usually has to go at least as far south as Carmel to procure. This Sun King link will also lead to small changes in the taproom – like a bit more orange, the loss of the tin man branding, and an eventual change to the stained glass window. No food is planned for Kokomo, so it will be different from the other Sun King locations in that respect, but the independence will allow them to keep their plan to get a permit for the upstairs room so they can do private and taproom events, and they can attend festivals and do their own events independent of Sun King.
The important points are these: 1) Kokomo will remain it’s own brewery and will truly be a Kokomo product; 2) they will definitely be making their own beers that you will only be able to get in Kokomo (or occasionally at other Sun King locations); 3) their linkage to Sun King will only improve the experiences you have at the brewery; and 4) Amanda, Ashley and the crew will still be there to make you feel at home. This is still the Kokomo brewery you know and love, it’s just been re-invented to take the best of what was, and the best of what can be.
Here is the post put out by Sun King Small Batch Brewery – Kokomo on Tuesday, the 9th:
We are SO proud to say we have partnered with one of the top craft breweries in Indiana Sun King Brewery! You can expect to see the same faces, and know that we are still in great hands under the same ownership of Amanda Lewton. We will answer your questions as you have them as quickly as possible! We could not be more excited for this new chapter of your locally owned Kokomo Brewery.