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Sun King Brewery (and good beer in a can)

October 16, 2010

The Sun King Yeti and logo

As a beer loving adult,  getting a behind the scenes tour of a microbrewery is about as magical an experience as I imagine getting a tour of Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory would be for a child (I got a golden ticket… and BEER!). this week I had the pleasure of visiting Sun King Brewery in Indianapolis Indiana. Dave Colt, one of the head brewers, took me around and showed me their 15 barrel microbrewery. One of the coolest things to me about this brewery is that all their beer for retail is going into cans. There has been a sort of canned beer revolution happening in the last few years and some are arguing that canned beer is better than bottled beer. Light and heat are two of the biggest factors in retaining beer quality and, unlike bottles, light can’t penetrate an aluminum can. Aluminum is also lighter to ship & cheaper and easier to recycle thus making it a little better for the environment than glass (or so I’m told).

Their "Pink Pig" 60 gallon fermenting tank holding their popcorn pilsner.

Sun King is putting their beer into 16 ounce tallboys –“because 12 ounces just isn’t enough”- and selling them in four packs. In the past, beer in a can was a sign of a weak beer and was shunned by the micro brewery community. That’s changed in the last couple years with breweries like Brooklyn Brewery, New Belgium (fat tire/ ranger IPA) and Oskar Blues (Dale’s pale ale) putting good quality micro brews into cans. The first time I ever tasted one of Sun King’s cans it was the Osiris Pale Ale. I had just driven 500 miles and when I opened the can the hops were so clean and fragrant was like a can of hops perfume. A truly magnificent beer. I figured my judgement might be skewed  after an 8 hour car ride, but it has now been a week, I have retired the car and the beer is still a like a gift of fresh hops when I open the can. Time being a factor in how a beer tastes (the younger the better generally) it is possible that since mine came straight from the hands of the brewer I got the freshest of the fresh, but its unlikely that, if you can find their beers, they will be anything but  fresh and delicious. They managed to take two medals in the Great American Brew Festival last year and their beers now are in such high demand they can hardly get them out of the city.

Bourbon barrels full of beer.

For now if you want to get your hands on some Sun King beers you will have to be in the Indianapolis area, but the good news is that they are already expanding after less than two years as a brewery and if you’re lucky they might start getting their cans in your local stores and kegs in your bars. The brewery is a wonderful magical place complete with canning facility, a tank shaped like a pig and its own beer Yeti.  The beer is really awesome. My only regret is that I don’t live close enough to get their beers so I won’t get to try their specialty brews like their popcorn pilsner, Belgian trippel, and their brews aged in bourbon barrels. Look out Indy 500, I dare you to find a better beer than this for a day on the race track.

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