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The History of Sun King Brewery in Indianapolis, Indiana

History Sun King Brewery in Indianapolis, Indiana

Sun King is the brain child of Dave Colt and Clay Robinson. The idea for Sun King was born during their years brewing together at a large, corporate brew pub in Downtown Indianapolis, but the roots of Sun King go back even further through friendships formed and the close-knit nature of the Indiana Brewing Community.
Both brewers began their careers over a decade ago by happenstance, while working in the restaurant side of things at two local brew pubs. From the moment each of them was given the opportunity to craft beer, they both knew they had stumbled upon something very unique and special.

 Dave Colt and Clay Robinson

Dave spent several years as the Bar Manager / Assistant Brewer at Circle V on the North Side of Indy, which is actually where Dave and Clay first met when Dave helped Clay load kegs into his car on several occasions. They wouldn’t cross paths again until a few years later when Clay was brewing for Rock Bottom in Downtown Indianapolis. By that time Dave had begun his career brewing for the Ram as the assistant to John (Johan) Hanley and Clay had taken over brewing operations at The Rock. They would often get together at the end of the week to enjoy beers and talk about life and the art of brewing.

Through a series of circumstances that would take more time to explain than you care to read: Clay passed up a transfer to Denver with Rock Bottom and pointed them in the direction of John Hanley. John took the job and moved to Denver, which allowed Dave the opportunity to become the Head Brewer at the Ram in the summer of 2002. By the close of that year, Clay had ended his career at Rock Bottom and began a three year sabbatical that was filled with travel, fun and booze which eventually lead to the creation of BeerJuggs, the home-brewing instructional DVD.

In the fall of 2005, Dave was in need of an assistant brewer to Replace Jerry Sutherlin, who was leaving to become the Head Brewer down the Street at the afore mentioned Rock Bottom, so he called Clay to get the phone number of a friend and fellow brewer... To which Clay inquired, “Why?” When Dave said, “I need someone who could operated a brewery.” Clay expressed his interest and made plans to drop by and discuss the details. Within a few days, Clay was hired and the two began brewing together.

Over the next three years, Dave and Clay spent an average of 50 hours a week together, locked in a small brewery cranking out as many seasonal beers as possible while keeping up with the expansive line up of house beers. During their time together, Dave and Clay managed to create a reputation for themselves in the Beer Community and rack up a nice collection of accolades that includes 3 GABF Medals, 2 Festival of Barrel Aged Beer Medals, Dozens of Indiana Brewer’s Cup Medals and the award for 2007 Indiana Brewery of the Year. It was during this time that Sun King began to take shape. The two spent long hours brewing, scrubbing and polishing copper while discussing what they would do if they had the opportunity to open their own brewery. The first of which was that they would have no copper on any of their tanks, an idea they stuck with when sourcing equipment for Sun King. The rest of which have made their way into the overall concept of Sun King.
Dave Colt brewing at Sun King BreweryDrinking Beer  at Sun King Brewery

Clay left the Ram in July of 2008 with the intention of dedicating himself to making Sun King a reality. After a two month hiatus in Alaska, Clay returned to Indianapolis where he holed up in his home for a month and drafted the Sun King business plan. He enlisted the help and consultation of his father, Omar, a highly motivated, self starting individual who has started and run more than his fair share of businesses over the last 50 years. The two of them got to work revising the business plan and pouring over budgets while consulting with their new attorney and soon to be business partner, Steve, who Dave and Clay had become friends with over the past several years because of his love of good beer.

Upon Completion, Omar and Clay took the plan to one of Dave’s long time friends, Andy, who used to frequently have lunch at Circle V all those years ago. Dave had been discussing the idea with Andy occasionally and Andy had always expressed interest in helping make those dreams a reality. Needless to say, Andy loved the plan and agreed to take up the cause of coordinating investors for the project. In the Fall of 2008 Sun King was officially born!
The Island of Misfit Beers - Sun King BrewerySun King Tap Handles

It has taken a lot of time, effort and perseverance to get the job done, but most of all it has taken the help and support of a lot of good people who believed in what we were trying to do. After nearly 6 months of searching by our realtor, Richard King, we finally found a home downtown at 135 N. College Ave. With the help of our project planner, John Bennet and a host of talented contractors and friends, our industrial warehouse space has been transformed into the first full scale production brewery since Indianapolis Brewing Company closed it’s doors in 1948.
On July 1, 2009 Dave and Clay brewed their first batch of beer at Sun King, an English-style Barley Wine aptly named Johan. Sun King began distributing Craft Beer to the Indianapolis Metropolitan area at the end of July and have been gaining momentum ever since.

Sun King Brewing Company has won numerous awards at the World Beer Cup, Great American Beer Festival and the U.S. Open Beer Championship.
Year Round Beers
Sunlight Cream Ale
Wee Mac Scottish-Style Ale
Oriris Pale Ale

King's Reserve Series
Port Barrel Wee Mac
Hop Up Offa That Brett
Lonesome Dove
Bourbon Barrel Timmie
Afternoon Delight
PV Muckle
Bourbon Barrel Cowbell
Stupid Sexy Flanders
Bourbon Barrel Wee Mac
Batch 333: The Velvet Fog
Bourbon Barrel Johan

Seasonal Ales and Lagers
Fistful of Hops Blue Can Seasonal IPA
Ring of Dingle
Indians Lager
Dominator Dopplebock
Fistful of Hops Green Can Seasonal IPA
Popcorn Pilsner
Bitch'n Camaro Imperial Rye IPA
BIG H Hefeweizen
Firefly Wheat Belgian-Style Wit
GFJ Birthversary IPA
Cream Dream Series IPA / Imperial IPA
Fistful of Hops Red Can Seasonal IPA
El Gallo Negro American Black Ale
Malus Pi Fruit Beer
Sink the Clipper Imperial ESB
WEE MUCKLE Wee Heavy Scotch Ale

Cans protect beer from its two greatest enemies, sunlight & oxygen, in a way that no bottle can! We like to think of cans as a tiny keg that delivers fresh, draft quality beer to you in a convenient little package. Every can is lined with a food grade liner that keeps the beer from having any contact with aluminum. Our semi-automated canning line, purchased from Cask Brewing Systems, has the lowest Oxygen pick up in the industry and the seam on a can is perfect seal, therefore locking in the freshness. Cans are lighter, so it takes less fuel/energy to ship them, both to and from our facility. They are more frequently recycled and the process that takes less energy than recycling glass, so the environmental footprint of cans is much lighter than most other packaging methods. (Reusable Growlers and Kegs are the most Earth friendly ways to transport beer)


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