Following Legislative Change, Sun King to Open New Distillery and Taproom

Austin Ray

Sun King Brewing has detailed plans to open a new 15,000 square foot distillery and taproom in its home state of Indiana next fall. The $5 million investment marks the company’s first official foray into the world of spirits, but the plan has been percolating for a while. It comes to fruition now thanks in large part to a piece of legislation Sun King itself was instrumental in getting passed in 2013.
On a local level, Sun King has emerged as one of the beer industry’s leading activists. At the tail end of 2014, the company severed ties with its wholesale partners in protest of a state law that limited breweries to producing 30,000 barrels per year. Shortly thereafter, with help from fellow Hoosier State beer heavyweight Three Floyds, it spearheaded the Support Indiana Brewers campaign, and convinced lawmakers to triple that cap to 90,000 barrels per year.
But before that, in 2013, Sun King worked alongside the state’s distilleries to change a law that prohibited them from selling direct to the public. Prior to the law’s passage, spirit makers were forced to sell their wares through a wholesaler. It was at that time Sun King detailed its own plans to one day open a distillery. Today, given the company’s plans to sell its forthcoming spirits directly to visitors, it’s clear that legislative change was necessary to Sun King’s vision of the future.  
This all goes to show that expansion requires more than just available space and capital. You don’t even need to leave the region to see another example of this truth.
Earlier this week, Eater Chicago reported that Three Floyds is working on…something…in Chicago. Though the company has long wanted to open a brewpub in Humboldt Park, legislative diktat has stood in the way. Now, as some sort of mysterious project seems to be unfolding at the property Three Floyds bought (and eventually flipped) there, founder Nick Floyd conceded, “Something cool is going in there… I might not even own any of it, which is sad.” What that “something” is remains to be seen, but the lack of clarity is due, at least partially, to the rules governing the biz.
Indeed, more than physical space and a few million dollars, growth and expansion very often requires a brewer to be willing to fight for change, or at the very least look for a back door.
—Dave Eisenberg
Sun King plans to open $5 million distillery in Carmel in 2017 [Indianapolis Business Journal]
Three Floyds Collaborating On Mysterious Restaurant/Bar in Chicago [Eater Chicago]