Sun King Brewery Scores with Cans & Sleeve Labels

Sun King Brewery Scores with Cans & Sleeve Labels

Part 3 of a 3-part series on craft beer packaging.

For those with an eye on the bottom line, sleeve-label cans are about inventory flexibility, adaptability and cost savings.

For Sun King Brewery in Indianapolis, Ind., they’re about all that and being who they want to be–with a passion.

Co-owner Clay Robinson says the adaptability of sleeve-label packaging allows their craft brewery to work with smaller production runs, make more innovative use of graphics and packaging, and allow the company’s artists to “play a little more” at making distinctive labeling that attracts the customer’s eye.

Besides making it easier to create a distinctive Sun King presence on store shelves, it also allowed the brewery to partner with the hometown basketball team, the Indiana Pacers, to create a limited-run brand called “Tip-Off Ale” with which to mark the start of the 2015 NBA basketball season. The German-style “Altbier” debuted on tap and in cans at the Pacers’ first home game of the 2015 season and was available until supplies ran out at all events at the Fieldhouse in which the Pacers play, according to

Working with Century Label, Sun King was able to quickly develop and roll out a “new product that was completely unique,” according to co-owner Clay Robinson. As a result, the start of the basketball season had a unique craft brew to go with it.

The Pacers partnership isn’t the only way Sun King uses its labels to stay unique, though. According to Robinson, the company’s artists and designers work across many genres of art to create brand labels unique to each Sun King brand while maintaining the overall Sun King identity, so that when the consumer “sees something that is Sun King, it immediately (stands) out.”

Meanwhile, the flexibility afforded by sleeve-labeling allows the brewery to quickly experiment with new ideas in brewing and, just as importantly, utilize the shape, shine and shelf appeal of the prime label to draw the consumer to those brands.

As co-owner Dave Colt says, that lets the brewery “be whoever we wanted to be, produce what we want to produce–passionately.”

Read Part 1 & Part 2.