Researching Fan Base Outside State Leads to Growth for Sun King

Having not sold its beer outside of the state of Indiana because of constraints caused by its own capacity and restrictions that were in place because of state laws, Sun King in Indianapolis is ready to stretch across the border.

Having worked to increase Indiana’s barrelage limitations and increase Sun King’s capacity to make more beer, the brewery said it’s now in a position to not only meet the demands of Hoosiers throughout the state, but also to share its beer in other markets.

First up starting in August will be neighboring towns, Louisville and Chicago.

Along with being close, research indicated that a lot of Hoosiers lived in both cities, which means being available to ex-pat locals was key. Also, a key Interstate shooting into both cities from Indianapolis was helpful said head brewer and co-founder Dave Colt.

“Many Sun King fans from Chicago and Louisville either travel to our tap rooms in Indiana or to Indiana grocery and liquor stores to purchase our beers,” Colt explained. “We also feel their love at regional festivals and events in their cities.

“We’re excited to not only be able to make our beers more convenient for them to purchase and enjoy, but to also increase awareness of our beers and continue to achieve smart, sustainable growth.”

Sun King has participated in both city’s craft beer weeks recently and received a lot of great feedback, Colt added, pointing out that the brewery also has been a part of several festivals in those cities also.

The brewery is projected to hit 36-38,000 barrels this year.  Colt said they are up 4.7 percent in volume so far this year.

Colt said that Wisconsin’s New Glarus was an inspiration when the brewery opened up eight years ago with the goal to be Indianapolis’ beer and then the state’s beer.

“We were absolutely overwhelmed by the amount of beer Indy consumed and what it took to keep ahead of that, plus be able to grow and achieve statewide distribution, which we finally accomplished a little over a year ago,” Colt said. However, there are some significant differences between Indiana and Wisconsin, he pointed out, the biggest being per capita consumption. According to reported numbers, Wisconsin consumes four times more craft beer per person per year than Indiana (1.5 versus 7.3 gallons per legal consuming adult).

“So while we’ve grown tremendously over the past eight years, from non-existence to over 36,000 barrels in one state, it will take a near seismic shift in the habits of Indiana consumers for Sun King to see substantial growth at home,” Colt said.

Sun King has recently filled in its latest cellar expansion, which houses four indoor/outdoor 420-barrel fermenters, which gives the brewery capacity for nearly 50,000 barrels.

“It’s some much needed breathing room,” Colt said. “This allowed us to consider opportunities that we have been saying no since our inception, and Louisville and Chicago have some natural synergies that make them a great place to expand our sales footprint.”

He added that many Indiana residents visit those cities regularly and request Sun King beer while there, plus the number of colleges students that graduate and have grown accustomed to drinking Sun King within Indiana and return to Chicago or Louisville, it made perfect sense for Sun King to offer its beer in those markets.

Colt said they will continuously explore opportunities that exist to efficiently distribute beer in other markets when it makes sense.

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