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Is the Synek draft system a growler killer?

There is a new home draft beer dispensing system about to launch that could become a game changer when it comes to growlers and kegerators.  I’ve talked ad nauseum about the rise of the growlers and the fancy filling systems but this takes a little different approach as it looks to eliminate two different products.  The Synek draft system is a basic kegerator that uses a “cartridge” system that can be filled by anyone with a basic adapter piece. The adapter allows the cartridge to be filled from a corny keg, draft faucet, or even a bright tank.  Think of it as the K-Cup for beer.  This is certainly an interesting concept but I’m still a bit skeptical for a few reasons.

The Cartridge

At the heart of the matter is a cardboard box containing a single-use plastic bladder that is able to withstand high levels of CO2 pressure.  It can hold 128oz – one gallon, or the equivalent of two standard full size growlers.  The cartridge is light proof and the plastic bag is impermeable to oxygen – thus knocking out two major enemies of beer freshness.  With this pressurized and temperature controlled cartridge the beer should stay fresh for a very long time – similar to the growlers filled from the Pegas system.

It seems this would be valuable for retailers and/or breweries looking for package in advance and sell fresh beer to patrons. The one drawback I see here is that while recycleable the cartridges are not reusable. Final pricing on these cartridges isn’t available and may end up pricing this out of range for many budgets.

The Dispenser

It’s a small refrigeration unit that the cartridge plugs into and then there is a tap handle to dispense.  I didn’t hear anything about what CO2 device would be used to push the beer but I’m assuming it’s a small on-board CO2 tank. It features clear windows on the device which allows a cartridge label to be displayed so you know what is pouring.

In terms of size, it is a counter-top dispensing device roughly the size of a toaster oven.  This is certainly a boon for those with limited space (i.e. small apartment) or if you don’t want to trudge out to the garage or basement for your kegerator or keezer.  It also makes the dispenser portable

Again, the price point of this key component will have an impact on the adoption rate. Pricing isn’t available but it is supposedly less than a standard kegerator. Typical kegerators are priced around $500+. This is certainly more expensive than throwing a growler in your fridge but it offers the ability to keep it fresh longer with a traditional draft pouring mechanism.

It’s Proprietary

Naturally, the components and device needs to be adopted by a pretty wide audience to make it sustainable. Additionally, you don’t want to see a competitor come out with a similar product with a different connection. No one wants to be Beta or HD DVD with their dispenser of choice. But perhaps it will go the route of the K-Cup or Blu Ray and become the dominant market player.

According to founder Steve Young, “This is a technology that can benefit everyone in the industry if everyone rallies behind it; brewers can engage more customers, distributors save on reduced shipping costs, retailers fit more product on shelves, and customers can get a wider variety of the freshest beer in the world.” At the end of the day, you could at least use it for your homebrew (assuming they continue to make empty cartridges).

Getting One

In less than two weeks they will launch a Kickstarter campaign to take initial orders.  It is certainly an interesting concept and something I’m going to keep my eye on as I could see this as something I would potentially purchase. If the dispenser was in the $100 or less range and empty cartridges around $1-2 then I think this could be a success. Beyond that, I’m just not sure (or maybe I’m too cheap).

Decide for yourself! Watch their funny video, read up on the specs below, and visit their site to learn more.

Specs (more details will be provided the day of launch):

Cartridge

    • Holds 128 oz or about 11 (12 fl oz) beers
    • Ships flat, oxygen-deprived, and sanitary – ready to be filled
    • 7 layer bag is ultra insulated to lock in freshness
    • Holds intense pressure – well in excess of boxed wine bags
    • Outer metallic film rejects UV rays to prevent oxidation
    • Includes a pressure release valve to reduce leaks
    • Barrier qualities comparable to bottles
    • Recyclable but not reusable
    • Costs will be comparable to bottles for homebrewers

Dispenser

    • Chills beer with cooling system
    • Includes thermostat to fine tune freshness
    • Pressurizes chamber using CO2
    • Includes pressure valve to manage foam/carbonation
    • Front window allows you to see the beer being dispensed inside
    • Drip tray included for messy pours
    • Dimensions are yet to be defined but will take up as much countertop space as a standard toaster oven
    • The dispenser will cost less than a kegerator (specific pricing released on Kickstarter launch)

Mike Stuart

Craft beer enthusiast and hombrew dabbler. Part-time writer, sometimes funny.

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