Cross the Border For Sun King Bourbon Barrel Timmie and go online to support Indiana brewer’s plight to raise their production cap. Feel good.For as complex of a beer that a barrel-aged Russian Imperial Stout is, it seems as though they’re becoming a dime a dozen. Breweries big and small are rolling out their version of this heavy hitter throughout these winter months. And because of that, the bar is being raised – expectations higher – for what makes one a quality beer worth the slow sipping.
Thankfully, the largest brewery in Indianapolis has elevated itself above the crowd once again.
Sun King Brewery’s Bourbon Barrel Timmie, part of their King’s Reserve series, doesn’t punch you with booze, doesn’t surprise you with sweetness and doesn’t dominate you with smoke. It’s just an incredibly balanced blend of all of that – everything that makes a barrel-aged Russian Imperial Stout such a quality treat. And it’s not heavy at all.
Even fighting through a stuffy head, the aroma coming off this aluminum bottle says this is going to be a good experience. There’s chocolate, there’s bourbon, there’s molasses, all just on the nose.
There’s just a slight carbonation and it’s not heavily bodied, either. Sweet bourbon is the first taste, dark chocolate and cocoa next. That’s an awesome experience right off the bat. Molasses settles in toward the end, as do the lightly smoked oak notes.
The end result is a smooth, light, sweet delight. Incredibly enjoyable and drinkable. But at 10% ABV, it doesn’t take much to remind you that this is still a boozy beer. For as drinkable as it is, you’ll want to go easy. Perhaps that’s why it’s only sold in two-packs, limit one, at their expansive tasting room.
The beer is just the latest in a series of impressive beers created by the state’s second-largest brewer, which has repeatedly won Great American Beer Festival gold. Sun King is the result of a partnership between a pair of Indianapolis brewers, Dave Colt and Clay Robinson, and they’ve only been brewing together for a little more than five years. Still, in that time, they’ve expanded across the state, even available at Indianapolis Colts games, and they’ve taken a lead role in sponsoring and organizing CANvitational, an annual festival dedicated to canned beer.
But plans to expand beyond that recently came to a screeching halt.
Like most states, Indiana sets production limits for craft brewers and all of Sun King’s success means they’re at that limit. As a result, they made the decision last month to end relationships with distributors outside of the Indianapolis area.
Indiana’s cap of 30,000 barrels a year is now being pushed by the Indiana Brewers Guild and Sun King is one of those leading the fight to change that. Exceeding that capacity means they can’t self-distribute, get some tax breaks or operate an on-site tasting room.
Oddly, if they sell more of their product outside of Indiana, it won’t count against that 30,000-barrel cap. But Sun King has only ever distributed its product in the Hoosier state and that remains their target audience.
Just four years ago, Indiana legislators agreed to raise the production limit from 20,000 barrels. But with the federal limit set at 60,000 barrels, it’s a fight they and other Indiana craft brewers will continue to wage in order to continue growing and providing Indiana communities with jobs and tax revenues. (Editor’s note: we wondered aloud in 2012 when brewers like Sun King would have to return to the legislature to raise the production cap. Clearly that time is now.)
As that battle wages on over the next few months, it’s worth crossing the border to support Sun King’s efforts with a Bourbon Barrel-Aged Timmie.
While you’re at it, you can voice your support for their fight by signing a petition at www.supportindianabrewers.com. If it means more quality beer like this one, it’s a battle worth joining.