Indianapolis-based Sun King Brewery did a pretty cool thing recently: For its 10th anniversary, the brewery created not one but four collaboration beers, and packaged them all together in a four-pack of 16 oz. cans. The 10th Anniversary Collaboration Pack offers a range of beers, some quite unique. We tried all four. Thoughts follow.
Sun King/Rhinegeist Hoppiness Jones – This unusual, dry-hopped IPA was made in collaboration with Cincinnati-based Rhinegeist and is aged in both tequila and pinot noir barrels and infused with hibiscus. The beer’s amber-pinkish color sets it apart at the start from the typical IPA, and there’s a clear barrel influence that gives the beer a certain gravity, with elements of caramel, dark chocolate, and an oaky character. The resinous, piney body is influenced more than anything by the tequila barrel, which gives a moderately herbal, even funky, character to the finish, showcasing notes of red pepper and even some jalapeno lingering at the very end. Not at all off-putting; I really enjoyed it. 8% abv. A-
Sun King/Austin Beerworks Collabergé – A brut IPA made with Austin Beerworks, this is the most straightforward of the quartet. Fresh and dry, particularly on the nose, there’s actually a fairly bold maltiness underneath that showcases a hefty amount of alcohol in the mix. As that brisk Champagne yeast character blows off, the IPA underpinnings assert themselves and a resinous, citrus character familiar to any double IPA drinker manifests itself more fully. Lightly vegetal on the finish, but overall a delight to savor. 8.3% abv. A-
Sun King/3 Floyds Maximum Overdrive – A collaboration with Munster, Indiana-based 3 Floyds Brewing, this is a bold porter brewed with Indiana malt from Sugar Creek Malt, two different yeast strains, and American and Slovenian hops. Aggressively dark, the beer feels like the perfect cold weather brew, nutty and fruity up front, malty and soothing on the back end. A very gentle coffee/dark chocolate note recalls the Old World, but it lacks that overripe, over-alcoholed character that can be common in this style. Lovely. 7% abv. A-
Sun King/Cigar City Highway Queen – A sour golden ale brewed with Zinfandel grapes, sour cherries, and raspberries aged on oak — with experimental yeast — made in collaboration with Tampa-based Cigar City Brewing. The pink-orange sour is traditionally gose-like in construct, with a burst of red berries and cherry fruit mixed in with a healthy dose of melted Sour Patch Kids and some balsamic notes. Decidedly candylike throughout, the experience is more soda-like than I tend to gravitate to. Fans of ultra-sours, however, may feel differently. 5.7% abv. B
$NA per four-pack of 16 oz. cans / sunkingbrewing.com