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New machine is like Keurig for craft beer

Monday - 7/7/2014, 3:56am  ET

Synek beer dispenser (Synek)
Synek calls itself "the world's first portable tap house," making it possible to store and serve craft beer. (Synek)

WASHINGTON -- Think Keurig, but for beer.

A soon-to-be-released dispenser will enable craft beer lovers to conveniently store and serve a wide variety of beer at home, right from the brewery, fresh on tap.

The Synek draft system calls itself "the world's first portable tap house," chilling and serving craft beer in a glass, and eliminating a major problem facing microbreweries and home brewers -- storage.

"It's not easy for craft brewers to get the beer into your home at the best quality," says Steve Young, founder of Synek.

"You can have cans or bottles, which are very restrictive in terms of selection, since breweries can only afford to put one or two beers in," says Young. "Growlers give you the choice or selection, but the shelf life (of the large, dark-colored glass bottle) only lasts about two days."

The home system benefits both customer and brewer, says Young. "Synek allows brewers to fill their beer in our specially designed bags that automatically gives a 30-days-plus shelf life, and allows them to fill whatever beer they want in their entire assortment."

The beer producer can load its product into air-tight bags, which slide easily into the home dispenser.

"The comparison to Keurig is more of the convenience aspect, the fact that you can enter cartridges and get a product out," says Young. "The machine itself does not actually brew the beer."

Customers who own the machine will be able to go to participating local breweries and purchase any style beer the brewer chooses to sell.

"They can take it home, insert it into their dispenser, and they have fresh beer right from the brewery, fresh on tap," says Young.

From brewery to your kitchen

Young says the question he's asked most is how the beer gets into the cartridge.

"The brewer has a special adapter which we provide to them for free -- no expensive machinery or filling equipment," he says. "So they can either fill it right from the tap or from the back room, right from the fermenting tank."

Even if a brewer isn't aware of the Synek system, a customer can carry an adapter into the brewery, which can be quickly clipped into any tap. Young demonstrates in a video.

Young says beer cartridges take approximately half as much storage space as bottled beer: "Each bag holds one gallon, which is comparable to 11 beer bottles."

Young says his company is in the midst of a Kickstarter crowdfunding effort aimed at raising $250,000 to produce a first run of dispensers, which should be shipped to backers by March 2015.

Does it hurt the beer?

The Synek home dispenser serves the beer the way it's supposed to be served, says Young.

"Our dispenser is customized so you can change the temperature and the pressure to give that specific beer the best environment possible," says Young.

Draft beer is often dispensed through the use of a mix of carbon dioxide and nitrogen gases.

"Stouts have a lot lower pressure; IPAs have a lot higher pressure," says Young. "So if you put in an IPA, you can change the pressure to be higher, to make sure you get that very hoppy, sharp, crisp flavor that IPAs have."

While the Synek dispenser will initially be marketed for beer, Young says it also works with wine and soda, and eventually hopes to tap into those industries.

See how beer goes from the tap to the home dispenser:

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