Two years ago, organizers for the Indiana State Fair approached Sun King Brewery about doing a special beer just for State Fair. Last year, the fair was canceled, but this year’s fair is a go so Dave Colt, owner of the Sun King Brewery in Indiana, got to thinking.
If you’re in Indiana, the biggest food attractions are giant turkey legs, funnel cakes and corn dogs, he says. “Turkey leg beer sounds gross so let’s do funnel cakes,” says Dave Colt, owner of Sun King Brewery in Indiana.
And that’s exactly what Colt and his team at Sun King did – they made a State Fair State Fair Funnel Cake Pastry Ale. “Three hundred funnel cakes were lovingly murdered to make this beer,” Colt says. “We tossed them in whole, into the mash, and they broke up as we were mashing.”
That’s right. Three hundred funnel cakes were tossed into the mash to make the beer. You can watch Colt and his crew toss the cakes right into the mash here. “It smelled so good that day, but we didn’t get to eat a single cake,” says Elizabeth Belange, marketing and promotions director for this Indiana brewery.
The smell was so enticing, and the crew was so disappointed that Belange, who is a skilled home baker, made homemade funnel cakes, which she took to the brewery the next day. Those cakes, however, were eaten by the brewers, instead of being sacrificed for the ale.
To make the pastry ale, more than just a bunch of funnel cakes were needed. Colt researched the history of the state fair sweet, as well as the historical flavors and the methods of making them. “When we do something like this, we like to do it form a historical point of view,” he says. “Old-fashioned recipes called for a pinch of nutmeg and a pinch of cinnamon, and we did that.”
He and his team then matched flavors with malts and yeasts, and they came up with State Fair Funnel Cake Pastry Ale, which smells and tastes very much as if a funnel cake became a tasty ale.
It’s not the first time that Sun King has done a crazy, pastry ale. “We did a beer called Cookie, and the inspiration for that came from, what if we made beer that tasted like a chocolate chip cookie?” Colt says. “We also did a Chocolate Cake, and a Giant Chocolate Cupcake, and we threw giant cupcakes into the batch.”
The new brew is sold in both cans and draft right at the Indiana State Fair, which started last Friday, and the Indiana State Fair runs until Aug. 22. The beer is also sold on tap at the brewery’s tasting rooms while supplies last. However, iff State Fair Funnel Cake Pastry Ale runs out, it’s gone for good, and no more funnel cakes will be sacrificed to brew more beer. “That would be a good problem to have,” Colt says.
Even if Funnel Cake Pastry Ale is gone, the folks at Sun King are already working on their next project: Popcorn Pilsner, which was made with a blend of seven heirloom popcorns grown in Sunman, Indiana (and then popped at Just Pop In, a local gourmet popcorn shop.) The first time the brewery made a popcorn ale, they popped the popcorn at the brewery.
“It took 14 employees, working on 14 popcorn poppers, for 14 hours to pop all 100 pounds of popcorn,” Colt says.