Sun King Brewing cuts off distribution due to state beer limit

Sun King

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Sun King Brewing announced Friday they will cut ties with distributors outside Central Indiana.

Co-founder Clay Robinson said the brewery is nearing its production limit for the year in accordance with Indiana law. Now Robinson and the rest of the Indiana Brewers Guild are asking legislators to change those restrictions.

Grabbing a cold brew at Sun King Brewing is one of the hottest things to do on a Friday evening. The tasting room is often elbow-to-elbow. Sun King said it’s one of the perks of being a small brewer.

The popularity of the local beer created a need for more beer. However, increased brewing is butting up against state law regulating beer production.

“As we brew beer day in and day out, it equates to about 30-thousand barrels of beer, which makes us realize that we can’t make anymore beer… at least legally,” Robinson said.

“There aren’t a lot of businesses in the world where they say you can’t do this any more if you get past a certain point.”

The Indiana limit for a small brewer is 30,000 barrels. It’s a point Sun King Brewing has reached in just 5 years. If a brewery produces more than the small brewer limit, they cannot self-distribute their product or have an onsite tasting room.

Sun King Brewing founders could decide to make more product and send it out-of-state. If it’s sold outside Indiana, it’s not counted in the 30-thousand barrel limit. But Robinson said that’s not his goal. He wants to brew craft beer for Hoosiers.

“It’s kind of odd. While we’re a federally regulated business and a state regulated business, there aren’t a lot of businesses in the world where they say you can’t do this any more if you get past a certain point,” Robinson said.

So while the business is growing, Sun King Brewing and it’s 58 full-time employees and 60 part-time are hitting a wall.

This isn’t the first time Robinson and the rest of the Indiana Brewers Guild lobbied legislators. In 2011, they were able to convince lawmakers to raise the production limit from 20-thousand to 30-thousand. The federal small brewers limit is 60-thousand.

“While it affects us today, it affects a lot more small businesses over the next few years,” Robinson said.

Sun King BeerBut until the legislative session begins, Sun King is keeping its product in the Indianapolis and Bloomington areas.

“Since we can’t make any more beer, we need as much beer as we can to sell in our home market,” Robinson said.

It’s also changing the plan for Sun King Brewing’s plan for the new Fishers location.

First meant to serve as another large beer production spot, Robinson said it will now include a tasting room and event space. The new location will only brew 5,000 barrels of beer a year which will be sold exclusively in Fishers.

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