Hoosier Beer Geek's latest article in Metromix talks about Three Floyds, Sun King, their collaboration pale ale "3 Kings", and the state laws that will limit their ability to grow in Indiana.
The "3F/SK Legislation" was successfully amended into House Bill 1132 yesterday during a Senate committee reading. Senator Alting (R-Lafayette) (who along with Senator Simpson (D-Bloomington) sponsored the Sunday growler sales bill last year) helped with the support of the amendment. The bill would raise the limit to 30,000 barrels, which would cover both breweries for a while longer. It will go before the full Senate before returning to the House.
You can read our article here (if the Metromix website is working). Sun King will be tapping 3 Kings at their brewery on April 21st.
Below, we have some more excerpts from Mike's interview with the 3F/SK crew during the 3 Kings brew day.
How did you arrive at the recipe?
Barnaby Struve, VP at Three Floyds: Well we just kind of talked about it. We wanted to have something that isn’t just a kick in the nuts. We want something that’s going to be refreshing, that you can drink more than one of without getting too impaired – a nice session (beer). If we’re trying to get people to become aware of this and spread that word – if it’s a barleywine of some 13% alcohol beer it doesn’t really get the job done. So we just wanted to make something nice, drinkable, and refreshing. Clay, Nick and I sat down with the other guys at Sun King and just kind of hashed it out. We make a lot of pale ales – it’s not too far afield.
You’re both breweries that are known for a pale ale, so was that the obvious answer?
Barnaby: We wanted to do it in a very timely fashion, because the legislative session is happening right now. We want to make sure that those guys know that we’re all in this together for Indiana beer and specifically for Indiana craft beer. Given the fact that we are largely an ale brewery and we have a lot of ale yeast on hand, we have all the ingredients to do it – it seemed like a logistically wise decision. And people generally like pale ales.
Barnaby: I’ll say four weeks. Once it’s done it will be available here, but once it’s put in kegs we have to make sure that Sun King gets a bunch of it as well.”
Clay Robinson, VP/Co-owner of Sun King: I think we should do a tapping here and a tapping there.
Barnaby: Do a petition as well. Have you and Omar and the guys come up.
For you guys the limit at 20000 barrels is “looming”. When did you become aware?
Barnaby: Clay told Nick about the situation right when they were starting to get into the legislative fight which was at the Great Taste of the Midwest last year, in August. It’s not necessarily just about Sun King and Three Floyds. We’ll take up the fight because it affects our business and our bottom line, but it’s also about the state of craft beer. In a rare occasion we have distributors that also want it passed. It’s very rare that distributors and brewers agree on anything. But the industry average is somewhere around 6 or 7 percent nationwide – 6 or 7% of the entire beer market is craft beer. In Indiana it’s much smaller than that – 1.9% - so all these distributors understand that there’s a lot of revenue to be made by this. So stifling growing breweries seems just strange. Obviously we’re not a charity – we want to do this so we can keep our pub open, make more money, and create better beer and more beer. But if we stop it at 20,000 barrels, what’s the incentive for any brewery to go beyond? It’s like ‘why do it?’ We’re actually creating jobs, making money and paying tax revenue. People won’t be coming to Indiana to our location to spend money and have a good time and all of that. It seems so counterproductive, especially now when people are like ‘We need jobs. Obama’s not creating jobs. That asshole.’ It’s like all you’ve got to do is write a bill and we can do it. I think it’s largely an educational problem because people don’t understand what craft beer is. We’re not savages that are trying to undermine the morality of good Christian children. We’re just trying to make a decent product and I think that’s something that Indiana should take to heart and also be proud of. We’re not Joe Camel. We’re not advertising to children.
How confident are you in the law being passed? What are you hearing?
Barnaby: I have absolutely zero idea. I’m a brewer that hangs out in a warehouse and makes beer. It looks good – we do have supporters – but I have no idea what floats these peoples’ boat at all. The thought that I’d be involved in any sort of legislative process is completely abhorrent to me. As you get older and your business grows, then you’re like ‘Oh, I have to start paying attention to adult things.’
Clay: I listen to NPR every day on my way to work and they’re talking about the Democrats walking out of the house and for the first time in my life I was like “Shit, that applies to me! This is actually important!”
Barnaby: I was telling my wife, ‘How did this happen!? I wrote a check to a lobbyist today! This is ridiculous, I should be hanging out with my cats listening to punk rock records!’. I certainly hope these people would recognize the importance – there are a bunch of businesses around us that are closing. We’re growing. Not only that, but because we produce alcohol, we pay taxes every month – much more often than other people. We’re making a quality product and trying to get it out there. We’re doing something good for Indiana.
Clay: Our sales tax in downtown is 9% - we pay 9% on every dollar that gets sold out of our tasting room because we only sell pretty much beer. On top of that we pay state excise tax and federal excise tax.
Neal Taflinger, Communications Director at Sun King: Three Floyds, Upland, and Sun King in 2010 accounted for $90,000 in excise tax just on beer that they produced.
Barnaby: And we’re not going to get smaller. So what we’re looking at – we have Mike Sheerin who’s one of Food and Wine’s top ten young chefs in the country cooking for us right now. We have people that fly from all over the world to come to our pub. We’re not shutting it down. We may shut it down in this location, but we’re a mile and a half away from the Illinois border, and we’re 35 miles from Chicago. The last thing we want to do is that, but we always wanted to have a pub in the city, and we’re not going to stop growing. If Indiana – because of whatever reason – if they think that’s a better idea to restrict and retard the growth of two really good craft breweries, then that’s fine. We’ll just go someplace else.
Clay: You can make great beer anywhere.
Barnaby: It’s so funny to me – in Chicago the sales tax is enormous. So there’s this active effort to try to lure businesses from Illinois to Indiana. And they’re trying to stifle one that’s already here and happy and proud of the fact that we’re in Munster Indiana and not in Chicago. It’s so strange to me.