Sun King puts proposed $8.8M Fishers brewery on hold

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A proposed Sun King Brewing Co. expansion in Fishers has been put on hold.

Legislation pending in the Indiana General Assembly involving barrel limits for the state’s small breweries has caused Sun King owners to pause plans for building the $8.8 million brewery and tasting room.

The 40,000-square-foot location in Fishers will be just off Interstate 69, on the southeast corner of Kincaid Drive and Park Central Drive. Plans announced in August call for office and retail space, and an expansive tasting room for customers to try beer samples and buy pints on-site along with cans, growlers and kegs for carryout.

Two bills working through the Legislature would increase from 30,000 to 90,000 the maximum number of barrels of beer a small brewery can manufacture in a year for sale within Indiana. Current law requires any beer produced beyond 30,000 barrels to be distributed out of state. One barrel is equal to two 15.5-gallon kegs.

Sun King, which was founded in mid-2009, nearly hit the production cap in 2014 and doesn’t distribute out of state.

Both bills—Senate Bill 297 and House Bill 1311—would also limit microbreweries from self-distributing more than 30,000 barrels per year. Anything above that mark would have to be sold through a third-party distributor.

The Senate and House bills have passed and will head to the opposite chambers for consideration.

“As we began to plan the project and get a realistic idea of costs, it became clear that in order to justify the project that we would need to make more than 30,000 barrels of beer,” Sun King co-owner Clay Robinson said in an email. “Until we are certain of the regulatory climate we will be operating in, it is hard to be certain what the exact scope of the project is.”

Another issue with the new facility is the 12.8 acres Sun King wants to build it on. Robinson said wetlands were discovered on the property, which means the brewing company would have to petition the Indiana Department of Environmental Management and “essentially relocate the wetlands” somewhere else on the property, Robinson said.

Initially, the brewery was expected to open in July, but Robinson said the setbacks will put the project far behind schedule. A new timeframe is unknown.

According to a study commissioned by Sun King through Indianapolis accounting firm Katz Sapper & Miller, the Fishers brewery could attract 27,000 visitors a year and generate an economic impact of $19.5 million.

Sun King would produce all of the popular Sunlight Cream Ale at the new location and eventually shift production of Wee Mac Scottish Ale and Osiris Pale Ale to Fishers. The downtown location on College Avenue would shift gears to seasonal and speciality beers.

Robinson said Sun King has been working with Indianapolis-based construction contractor Shiel-Sexton Co. on the project. The tasting room has been designed, but the size and scope of the accompanying brewery is still unknown.

Previous plans projected the new brewery to produce about 5,000 barrels per year.

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