Sun King set to add giant fermentation tanks, distribute across state

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Sun King Brewing Co. is embarking on a project at its downtown facility that will enable it to nearly double production and begin distributing throughout Indiana.

The brewery will request final city approval on March 10 to construct a 1,200-square-foot addition and install three fermentation tanks at the rear of its current building at 135 N. College Ave. The total investment is $1.5 million, Sun King owner Clay Robinson said.

The tanks, which will protrude out of the roof, can hold 480 barrels each. (A barrel is the equivalent of two kegs.) Sun King already has 41 tanks on site now, but they’re much smaller and can only hold 60 barrels each.
Do the math and the new tanks are eight times larger than the existing ones. Sun King even has enough space to add a fourth outside tank in the future, if necessary.

“This increases our overall production capacity with the smallest construction footprint,” Robinson said.

Sun King hopes to begin brewing in them sometime in May to ramp up for the summer beer-drinking season.

The company produced 30,000 barrels last year—the most it could under Indiana’s limit. Under the law at that time, brewers who wanted to exceed the cap needed a different permit, which required that sales go through a distributor and eliminated brewers' ability to have a tasting room.

But state lawmakers last session agreed to increase the maximum number of barrels that a small brewery can produce in a calendar year from 30,000 to 90,000 barrels.

Sun King’s additional three tanks will allow it to nearly double annual capacity, from 30,000 barrels to 55,000 barrels, Robinson said.

The extra production gives Sun King the ability to begin distributing across Indiana. It has contracted with Monarch Beverage Co. to sell in southern Indiana this spring. Indiana Beverage and Five Star Distribution are handling distribution in the northern portion of the state.

That’s quite a leap from last year, when Sun King distributed solely within a 50-mile radius of Indianapolis.

“Our long-term goal is to be Indiana’s beer,” said Robinson, noting he has no interest in expanding into neighboring states.

Also on the craft beer front: Metazoa Brewing Co. is set to open April 1 at 140 S. College Ave.  

David Worthington, who in 2013 launched Brewery Tours of Indianapolis, is tapping into the burgeoning craft beer scene with Metazoa.

He bought the 8,700-square-foot building where Arena Sporting Goods operated until it closed in April 2014, just north of the Milano Inn.

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