Sun King Spirits Celebrates Grand Opening In Carmel
Photographer: Michael Durr
Many Central Indiana residents know the name Sun King Brewery as one of the area’s most successful local craft beer purveyors, founded in 2009 in downtown Indy. The company is now diversifying in several ways at its new location in Carmel.
Sun King Spirits near the Monon Trail represents a few new frontiers for the company — first and foremost, the 15,000-square-foot facility features a 250-gallon still that produces gin, rum and seasonal spirits including an agave-based liquor.
“When you take a look at what spirits are made out of, it’s based in beer or wine,” says Dave Colt, co-founder, head brewer and now head distiller. “As a brewery, you’re halfway there. So why not take that step?”
Colt says Sun King has a robust barrel-aging system as part of its ongoing beer production that it will incorporate into a barrel-aged whiskey program.
“It’s a nice symbiotic relationship on the barrel side — we can make bourbon, age it and send it to the brewery,” Colt says, adding that local ingredients will be used whenever possible in the distillation process. “It’s great for the growth of our company and a good outlet for creativity.”
Construction began last year on the new facility, which houses a taproom and patio. Spirits are available by the bottle and glass, and like Sun King’s Indy and Fishers taproom locations, the distillery is open to all ages.
Spirits aren’t the only new venture at Sun King’s new location — food is offered onsite through unconventional means. Four local eateries offer their dishes in a food-hall atmosphere including Fountain Square-based La Margarita, Pi pizza, Beast food truck and Oca, the sister business of Goose the Market.
“We’re not restaurateurs — we make beer and now spirits, and when we thought about doing the food hall we realized we know some good food places who make really good stuff,” Colt says.
Sun King began flirting with the food hall idea last year when Oca, which serves meat platters and flatbread pizzas, opened temporarily inside its downtown Indy taproom. Colt says the Carmel concept is similar to a food truck gathering, where each eatery operates independently and is encouraged to open up shop during the distillery’s hours of operation.
“We’re taking that food truck kind of concept and bringing it indoors where the temperature is 70 degrees and pleasant year-round,” he says. “We travel a lot for beer conferences, and as we’ve gone to other states and seen other cool things it dawned on us when we were putting together the distillery that we should do something unique and bring a few of the food ideas that we’ve seen out in the country to Indy.”
Sun King technically started offering edibles back in 2014 when founders got word that they couldn’t sell beer pints without offering a minimal food menu. In response, the company began selling hot pockets, instant soup, coffee and powdered milk, and after Indiana law changed in 2015 via House Bill 1311, requiring breweries to simply “make food available for consumption on the brewery premises,” they got more creative.
“We started with Oca at our main location downtown and people responded to it,” Colt says. “The response was positive, and we thought we’d expand on it at the distillery.”
After a soft opening in June, Sun King Spirits officially opened its doors to the public on July 2, and Colt says the company plans to host a follow-up event in September to further celebrate its Carmel presence.
Notwithstanding the company’s focus on beer since its 2009 founding, spirits were always on the mind of Colt and his co-founders.
“We thought early on in the Sun King business that if we did well and we were eventually able to branch out and take a look at doing spirits, then we ought to,” Colt says. “So here we are.”
Sun King Spirits is located at 351 Monon Blvd. in Carmel. Call 317-843-6250 or visit sunkingbrewing.com/Carmel.html for more info, tap lists and links to food menus.