Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Synek - Future of Take-Home Beer?

There's a Kickstarter out there ending tomorrow that that could turn out to be a pretty awesome new product. The Synek draft system is a self-contained counter-top draft beer system created by a new start-up in St. Louis. It's basically a miniature keg system that you fill like a growler and has a design that would fit in any kitchen. The Synek creators bill it as the Keurig for beer, and see it as a revolution in beer packaging. But at $350 a pop, and with one big design flaw, it will have to be pretty amazing to catch on.

Here's a rundown on how it works. Once you've got your Synek dispenser, you buy a 128 oz. vacuum sealed and sterilized single-use pouch made specifically for the system. You fill the pouch out of a regular keg tap with the help of a cheap adapter. Pop the filled pouch into the dispenser, and, Bam!, beer on tap in your kitchen. CO2 is pumped directly into the beer pouch just like a keg. The pouches are opaque, insulated, have a special oxygen scrubbing lining, and can be pressurized up to 30 psi.

I really do think that the Synek system would be the best way to get fresh, quality brewpub/taproom beer at home. We all love to hate growlers, and they're all we've got. That being said, it's still a pretty big stretch to justify $350 to get the high quality growler beer at home. At that price, it's essentially a really awesome craft beer toy.

My one big qualm with this product are the single-serving pouches. Synek claims that they can be recycled, but I'm taking them to task on that. They say that the beer pouch is made of "2+ ply – LLDPE / Metalized Polyester." They also mention that an O2 extracting nylon material will be utilized. All three of these materials are accepted only by specialty recyclers (none in this area). Further, since the pouches are made with an assortment of materials that can't be separated, they will probably be impossible to recycle by anyone. Unless I'm completely wrong about this (which I hope I am), then not only is it a problem with the product, but it also means the inventors are being deceptive in their marketing.

The creators have some pretty lofty ideas about how this product is going to revolutionize beer packaging. It's going to be an uphill battle for them though. No craft brewery will want to associate themselves with boxed wine (at least in the near term--obviously canned craft beer caught on after some struggle). But more importantly, no brewery would expect their consumer to buy a $350 appliance to be able to drink their beer. At best it will grow into a niche market. However, if it were widely accepted, it would be a great way for nano-breweries to jump to the retail market without a $100k investment in a bottling line.

There's definitely some promise in the product, and nearly 2000 people have already pre-ordered a unit via Kickstarter. They killed their initial goal of $150k and right now sitting at nearly $700k raised. The Kickstarter ends tomorrow at 10am, and the first units should ship next Spring. I would probably sign up myself if I had $300 burning a hole in my pocket.

What do you think? Revolutionary beer packaging, or overpriced craft beer toy? 


  1. In theory, this thing sounds great. I'm always weary of kickstarter inventions though, the execution is always questionable.

    Looks like it hit funding though, when someone gets their's, they should do a review. I'd like to hear about it.

  2. I'm looking forward to having my kids run down to the corner publick house to fill up our family's tin bucket with beer. I mean, who needs 30 days to finish a pale of beer?

  3. Maybe I'm wrong but this is how I see it...ok, so you drop around $375 for this thing which then requires you to drive to your nearest pub and pay them to fill up 128oz worth of brew. So if you're lucky and your favorite craft brew is on special at $5/pint then that's more or less $65. Assuming that you get (10) 12 oz pours out of this per bag, then you've essentially shelled out that money to have some fresh CO2 piped in to it. If you're raging with some bros and they all like craft brew, 10 pours is gone in a matter of minutes. For a little more you could get a pony keg and be a true hero. Or better yet, brew your own for a helluva lot less than the $375+$65 investment. Keurig and beer should not be mentioned in the same sentence.

  4. Plus, how many places want to sell you 128oz out of their keg? Never going to happen with anything other than flagship beers.

  5. Yea, especially when you could build yourself a really sweet kegerator for about the same price.

  6. 128oz of Ursa Major, please!