Bringing beer to your countertop

Dawn Riffenburg
The Detroit News
The Synek system with a brushed stainless steel front is currently priced at $299 and includes five beer cartridges and a CO2 tank.

Draft beer lovers, rejoice: You can now enjoy it at home.

Thanks to modern technology and a successful Kickstarter campaign, packaging company Synek has unveiled a self-contained countertop tap system that gives you access to 128 ounces of fresh craft beer that will last a month or more.

Synek representatives came to HopCat Detroit recently to showcase their system and to deliver some of the home taps to supporters.

"We had a lot of cynics in the beginning," said Synek's Drew Dillman. But 2,191 backers for their nearly $650,000 Kickstarter campaign and a delivery date of late fall for new orders seems to indicate those critics were silenced.

When reps talked to craft brewers, Dillman said, their No. 1 concern was packaging: storing and sanitizing bottles and cans. Synek's innovation was to develop flexible aluminum pouches for use with a system with adjustable carbon dioxide levels that keeps out oxygen. The temperature level is also adjustable. "I can keep my hoppy IPAs around 35 degrees and I like my stouts and porters around 50," said Michael Werner, Synek's director of partnerships.

Synek's Drew Dillman shows how the aluminum cartridge connects to the device.
The system consists of a cooling compartment that holds a 128-ounce flexible aluminum cartridge for the beer, and another compartment for a CO2 tank that should hold enough gas to push out 50 cartridges of beer before refilling.

The cartridges are flexible packaging that can withstand the pressures of beer and other carbonated beverages. The inside layer is an FDA-approved, food-grade lining that doesn’t react with the contents. A multilayer of stretched aluminum provides oxygen barrier qualities similar to cans and protects the beer from UV rays. Finally, the cartridge's outside layer is coated with a strong plastic-like polymer that adds strength and durability.

"Oxygen is the enemy of beer," Dillman said. The brewer can direct-fill the pouch from their tap, creating a "beer-lock instead of an airlock," he said.

Much of the Synek tour involves lining up brewery partners as well as spreading the word about the countertop dispenser. HopCat will fill Synek pouches for the cost of filling two growlers -- which can range from $16 to $24 depending on the beer selected.

The carbon dioxide tanks can be filled at any sporting goods or big-box store, although the dream is that eventually brewers will offer refills as well for one-stop shopping. Werner estimated the carbon dioxide tanks last around 500 beers.

The stainless home unit includes five single-use bags and retails at $289; a bronze model runs $399.

See a demonstration of the dispenser system here. And see a map of current and potential filling sites here.

Synek Founder and self-described janitor Steve Young works with a Hop Cat bartender as she fills her first beer cartridge with a tap adaptor. The adaptor, provided free to bars and pubs, ensures the cartridge is filled without introducing oxygen, an enemy of beer.