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Sun King's Fishers brewery could be delayed to 2018

May 18, 2015

It might be 2018 before Sun King Brewing Co. opens its proposed 40,000-square-foot destination brewery and tasting room in Fishers—a delay of two years from its original plan.

The Fishers City Council could vote on a resolution Monday night that would extend by two years the economic-incentives deal the city reached with the Indianapolis-based brewery last year.

The original $2.5 million economic development deal, which was approved in August, required the project to start in 2015 and finish in 2016. The new arrangement would require the company to break ground in 2017 and complete the project by the end of 2018.

Under the agreement, Sun King would be required to make a capital investment of $10 million in equipment, machinery, technology, etc., by the end of 2022. Sun King also agreed to hire 20 employees at a minimum pay of $15.14 per hour and have an annual payroll of $630,000 once all the new employees are hired.

Plans for the expansion were initially put on hold during the Indiana General Assembly session this year as lawmakers debated increasing limits for microbrewery production.

Sun King and other brewers successfully lobbied for a bill that increased the maximum number of barrels of beer a small brewery can manufacture in a year for sale in Indiana from 30,000 to 90,000. One barrel is equal to two 15.5-gallon kegs.

Gov. Mike Pence recently signed Senate Enrolled Act 297, which caps microbreweries' self-distributing at 30,000 barrels per year. Anything beyond that would have to be sold through a third-party distributor.

Sun King, which was founded in mid-2009 and is headquartered at 135 N. College Ave., nearly hit the 30,000-barrel production limit last year and could reach the new self-distributing limit after adding the Fishers location.

The facility, dubbed the Sun King Brewing Tap Room and Pilot Brewery, would encompass 12.8 acres just off Interstate 69, on the southeast corner of Kincaid Drive and Park Central Drive.

It would primarily serve as a public meeting place with a merchandise store and 4,700-square-foot tap room and bar with space for 300 people. The tap room would open to the beer garden to the west with an outdoor covered seating area.

Behind the bar would be the pilot brewery, which would have a 10-barrel capacity for speciality and fancy beer production. A serving cooler behind the pilot brewery would house beers for pint service and growler and keg fills.

A second level with a banquet room and outdoor terrace overlooking the beer garden would have a capacity of 150 people and be available to rent.

Plans filed with the city of Fishers show a second phase that would include additional production capacity and more parking for larger events.

The second phase hinges on production-capacity limitations, distribution control and the vitality of Sun King’s tasting room, the plans say. Cost could range from $6 million to $18 million for that phase.

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

In the meantime, Sun King announced in April that it would open a 6,000-square-foot tap room and small-batch brewery in Fishers in the North by Northeast Shopping Center at 7848 E. 96th St. That is scheduled to open next month; it will include a three-barrel brewing system, expected to produce 1,500 barrels a year initially.

It’s likely Sun King won’t be the only craft brewery in Fishers by the time the larger facility opens.

Heady Hollow Brewing Co. partners Keefe Pietri and George Garrison are expecting to open a brewpub in mid-summer in leased space at 11069 Allisonville Road. The two friends have been brewing beer since 2008, and the new facility will have a five-barrel brewing system. They plan to sell beer by the pint glass, 64-ounce growler and 32-ounce “bullets.”

48th Parallel Brewing Co., which already has five house beers and several seasonal brews, could also open its first facility in Fishers, but details are undetermined.

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