When you’ve nicely established yourself as your hometown’s premier craft brewery, there’s only one logical next step: Start over and go back to school. “I went to Moonshine University in Louisville,” says Sun King co-founder Dave Colt. “And the first thing a lecturer said was, ‘All brewers are quitters. From a distillation standpoint, you stop halfway through the process.’ I said, ‘Sure, but it’s a wonderful place to stop and taste what you’ve got.’”
While Colt, an accomplished brewer, won the argument, he admits he had a lot to learn. He published his master’s thesis this summer—the new $5 million, 15,000-square-foot, two-level Sun King Spirits overlooking the Monon Trail in Midtown Carmel. A logical extension of the brand, the distillery has been a gleam in Sun King’s eye almost since day one. “Before we ever brewed our first batch of beer, I threw out to the other partners, “Hey, should we be fortunate enough to do well in the beer realm, we might take a look at spirits,’” Colt says. “So it became a matter of when, not if.”
The first order of business is to run off whiskey they’ll put in barrels, store downstairs, “and kind of forget about for a couple years,” he says. After that, the still will produce gin, moonshine, and an agave spirit that uses botanicals grown in Indiana.
But such things take time, so Sun King Spirits opened by featuring a number of swanky collaborations with some well-known other names, many of which can be found around these pages. There’s a rum collaboration with 8th Day, a gin project with Hotel Tango and No Mean City that bear’s the latter’s name, a hybrid white dog clear whiskey with Cardinal Spirits called Bird Royale, and a spirit crafted in conjunction with the Louisville brandy distillery Copper & Kings. On-site food court options include Oca (a version of the Fall Creek Place butcher shop Goose the Market), The Den by Foxgardin (replacing BEAST’s former spot), La Margarita (for Mexican) and Pi (for brick oven pizza). And, of course, there’s plenty of beer.
351 Monon Blvd., 317-843-6250, sunkingbrewing.com/carmel.html