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Beer On My Shirt: I Receive An Email About A New Beer Dispenser

J. R. Shirt, May 29, 2014 -   

The other day I received an email filled with compliments. It said things like “I have been following your blog” and “I think you do a great job tackling a variety of beer topics.” I reflected back on the variety of topics I have covered and smiled. 

“I would consider you one of the more credible beer bloggers out there.”

Based on the above quote (an actual quote from the email) one of three things are possible:

  1. The sender of the email is a man of high social standing and intellect.

  2. The sender of the email is some sort of marketing/internet bot so skilled and ingenious from an artificial intelligence standpoint that SkyNet must only be a few months away and we should all take appropriate actions.

  3. The sender of the email is an assassin baiting me into a scenario I imagine to be eerily similar to Kiefer Sutherland's interactions with Jeff Bridges in The Vanishing.

The purpose of the email, other than fellating my ego, was to inform of a new Kickstarter campaign set to begin in a few weeks for a new type of beer dispenser called the Synek Draft System.

Essentially, the dispenser reminds me of the counter top mini keg dispensers that came out in partnership with Heineken however long ago that was. The difference being that instead of a mini-keg, this Synek System uses a cartridge - what amounts to a bag, like those found inside a box of wine, but apparently much better - that can be filled from any keg, tap, or holding tank using a simple adapter.

Here are some of the specs that I received:

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)

The main claim is that the cartridge/bag will have a longer shelve life than a growler because the system is pressurized. I really like the idea of being able to get a bag of beer from a craft brewpub like Tired Hands and having last more than a day or two. However, I am skeptical of the process as a whole as it has a “which comes first” element to it – in order for the cartridges to start to be standard offerings at places that typically fill growlers there would need to be a demand, and in order for there to be a demand for bags filled with beer, people will need to have the dispenser. Essentially, people will have the dispensers and wait for there favorite breweries to adopt the new option. Sounds dangerous.

It seems they are aware the potential “chicken or the egg” problem and are instead aiming their initial crowdsourcing campaign at homebrewers. As I am not a homebrewer myself, I wonder if the idea of not filling and cleaning bottles is appealing? Will this make trading homebrews easier, assuming your trading partner also has the dispenser? I suppose the idea a brewing a small batch and having it on tap in your kitchen or on your patio is enticing, but with the price still unknown, how much would that experience be worth to even a serious homebrewer? These are all questions I am throwing out to the crowd since outside of helping a friend brew a few batches, I have little frame of reference for this side of the product's appeal.

A few other things that I found interesting were that they started another website, Craft-Conscious, with video interviews with craft brewers from around the country with titles like “How to Dominate Beer Week” and “Upgrading from Growlers to Bottling” and other things that might be interesting to someone looking to take their beer making to the next level. The press materials also mentioned a “rockstar beer expert advisory team that prefers to remain confidential at this time” but will be announced over the next few months.

I am quite curious who they might be – one of the images on the Synak System websites has a cartridge with a Schafly logo on it – and I think it could have a pretty big impact on how it is received by the craft beer community. If some of your favorite breweries start selling beer in bags then it would certainly make the dispenser seem like a more worthwhile investment, wouldn't it?

Regardless, check out the Synek System website (the packaging ideas for the cartridges are pretty interesting) and leave your thoughts about it down below, especially homebrewers – does this peak your interest? What do you think it will cost? Do you think craft brewers will be willing to starting filling cartridges/bags with beer? But mostly, I'm really not sure what to think about it, so I plan on just taking your best points and convincing myself they were my own and then using them in casual dinner party conversation.

UPDATE 6/24/2014: The Synek System Kickstarter is now up and running. Check it out. Watch the brewer video. Maybe back it, maybe don't. That is totally up to you.

“Stellar jukebox, sir. How do you obtain one of these?” Follow J.R. Shirt on Twitter and Untappd @beeronmyshirt

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