Not long after its launch more than a decade ago Sun King Brewing dove deep into the wood with its barrel program. Since then, the brewery, headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana has racked up a multitude of awards for its barrel-aged beers.

It was all part of the plan for the brewery, says co-founder Dave Colt, which also focuses on its core brand that includes a cream ale, a scotch ale, and a pale ale.

“You can do the fun, weird stuff. But you also need to please the folks,” Colt said on a recent episode of the Drink Beer, Think Beer podcast. “It’s kind of like a rock and roll concert. The general rule of thumb is a third of the songs are played for the crowd, a third of songs are played for the band, a third of the songs are the songs you know by heart by that band.”

Sunlight Cream Ale, he notes, is still 40 percent of the brewery’s annual output.

Dave Colt of Sun King Brewing
Dave Colt of Sun King Brewing. Photo by John Holl

On the podcast Andrew Hood, who runs the brewery’s barrel program talks about building out recipes and what Sun King has learned over the last decade when it comes to beers that not only taste good but resonate with drinkers.

“We know what Buffalo Trace barrels play well with some of our beers,” Hood says. “We’re really close to bourbon country so I can go handpick things that most people can’t. We’ve got certain brands that we’re like, okay, we know where these barrels play really well with and what base beers but you know, it just it depends. If there’s something new I’ll say ‘let’s experiment with one or two barrels. If it goes one way flavor wise, we’ll adapt to it.”

Listen to the show as Colt and Hood talk about the creation of a caramel apple tripel, a love of Flander’s Red ale, and a whole host of upcoming beers that are a homage to fringe celebrities.

Hear the whole conversation on the Drink Beer, Think Beer podcast. Download via Apple PodcastsSpotify, Overcast, or wherever you download shows.