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2011 Forty Under 40: Clayton Robinson

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About me...
Clayton Robinson
Owner/brewer
Sun King Brewing Co. LLC
35
Web sites:
Social media:
On my hip:
iPhone
Most-used apps:
Pandora
Yelp
Favorite stuff:
Beer; movies; spending time with "the lady in my life, Staraya;" books; including "Cash" by Johnny Cash; "Think and Grow Rich" by Napoleon Hill; and "Fast Food Nation" by Eric Schlosser
 

Clay Robinson started his brewing career about 12 years ago at Rock Bottom, where his boss described the job as “wet, hot, sticky and dirty.”

“‘You’re basically a janitor,’” Robinson remembers him saying. “‘But at the end of the day, you get to sit back with a pint of beer that you made.’”

“And then,” Robinson said, “he sipped his pint of beer and said, ‘it’s delicious.’”

If that didn’t convince him, his first batch of oatmeal stout and the smell of the grain mixing with the hot water did.

Now, after stints with Rock Bottom and the Ram, some personal time and time off in 2008 to write a business plan, Robinson and his partners have their own brewery, Sun King. They bought the remains of a Portland, Maine, brewery that had gone out of business and installed it at 135 N. College Ave.

Since July, 1, 2009, the day the company brewed its first batch of beer, Sun King has won two medals at the World Beer Cup and another two medals at the Great American Beer Festival, the two largest competitions in the world for craft brewers. Last summer, it took home eight medals at the Indiana State Fair Brewers’ Cup.

Perhaps just as important, by the end of its first year, Sun King was selling beer at the rate Robinson had anticipated in the fifth year of their business plan.

For 2011, he expects 75-percent to 100-percent growth and for Sun King to continue to build its business in “a realistic and a sustainable manner.”

“A lot of people in Indy who love beer know who we are, but a lot of people have no idea still,” Robinson said. “So we have time to grow our reputation around Indianapolis.”•

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