It sounds like every beer lover’s dream: fresh drafts of favorite craft beers poured direct from a tap in your own home. That seemingly farfetched dream became reality with the introduction of an innovative countertop beer dispenser from St. Louis-based SYNEK. SYNEK is a standalone home appliance that refrigerates, pressurizes and dispenses beer for the home consumer.
The system is made possible by a custom-engineered flexible pouch that holds and preserves a full gallon of beer. The pouch is the result of a year-long collaboration involving SYNEK and Mondi’s Consumer Goods Packaging business in North America.
“Because of the delicate nature of beer, the dispenser’s pouch is a critical draft system component,” says Markus Hoedebeck, vice president of product development, Mondi Jackson (Mo.). “The pouch is designed to handle the intense pressures produced by beer, which is well in excess of pressures in boxed wine bags, and also to preserve the beer’s freshness for over a month.”
SYNEK is the brainchild of company founder Steve Young. A former stock analyst covering the retail industry, Young heard persistent laments from top brewers on the outmoded state of beer packaging and distribution. There were few packaging options to fill the void between bottled beer and growlers, small containers whose contents stay fresh for only a few days. Determined to address the problem, Young succeeded in raising $650,000 though Kickstarter, a global funding platform for creative projects, and then assembled a team of engineering experts.
The first step was developing a portable, flexible container that could transport beer and keep it fresh for many weeks. After a lukewarm response from a few large packaging companies, Young met with executives of Mondi and the two companies quickly agreed to work together on the pouch.
A year-long team effort overcame many packaging challenges. It resulted in a unique flexible pouch consisting of three layers: an inner layer that is FDA approved and does not react to the ingredients in beer; a stretched aluminum middle layer that functions as an oxygen barrier and protects the pouch’s contents from UV rays; and a polymer-like exterior that adds strength and durability. In addition, Mondi and SYNEK collaborated with a third company to develop a frontal spout for the pouch.
"SYNEK and Mondi's packaging engineers and materials specialists worked closely to produce a pouch that meets requirements for maintaining freshness and keeping the beer properly contained during transport, handling and dispensing," says Steve Young, founder of SYNEK. "The resulting one gallon flexible pouch is an essential and highly engineered component of the SYNEK system, and a unique solution to a particularly demanding flexible packaging challenge.Our collaboration with Mondi has proven successful. We have received interest in SYNEK from many of the world's largest breweries and retailers."
Fresh Drafts for 30+ Days
SYNEK contains a complete cooling system and CO2 pressurization cartridge. It dispenses beer at just the right temperature and pressure and can be adjusted to user taste. The standard system is priced at $299.
Users take the pouch to their favorite brewery for filling or can have it filled from a tap at a restaurant or bar. After filling, the pouch is securely capped. Once home, the user removes the cap and connects the pouch to the draft system. The pouch holds 128 oz — the equivalent of 11 12oz beers. The beer stays fresh and delicious for 30+ days.