SYNEK: Beer is about to get better

Australia is currently undergoing somewhat of a craft beer renaissance; an incredible variety of craft beers are becoming increasingly more available. Local pubs are shaking up their tap rosters, replacing old stalwarts like Stella Artois with ingenious creations from local brewers. Even Liqourland and BWS are starting to stock some left-of-centre produce. It's a pretty good time to be a beer lover.

But it's about to get better.

By Alex Choros

Australia is currently undergoing somewhat of a craft beer renaissance; an incredible variety of craft beers are becoming increasingly more available. Local pubs are shaking up their tap rosters, replacing old stalwarts like Stella Artois with ingenious creations from local brewers. Even Liqourland and BWS are starting to stock some left-of-centre produce. It's a pretty good time to be a beer lover.

But it's about to get better.

Enter SYNEK. While you'd be forgiven for assuming it’s the name of the latest trendy dubstep producer, SYNEK is more aptly described as Nespresso for beer.

As with Nespresso's coffee machines, the refrigerated beer dispenser is fed using proprietary cartridges. However, anyone can fill a SYNEK cartridge. These can be filled from a keg, tap, or a finishing tank through the use of a simple adapter at any brewery or bottle shop. Each cartridge stores approximately 3.7 litres of beer, keeping it fresh for up to a month. And as the cartridges empty, the SYNEK dispenser displaces the beer with CO2, further preserving your brew of choice. It's unsurprising that SYNEK has attracted the support of brewers and beer lovers worldwide, and it could just be the next Kickstarter success story.

The SYNEK Draft System is 14 days into a month-long Kickstarter crowd-funding campaign, and based on current pledge levels, could earn 300% of its USD$250,000 goal. Eric Stoddard, "marketing master" for SYNEK said the response has been outstanding. On top of Kickstarter pledges, Stoddard said that "backers have been reaching out to breweries on our behalf". According to Stoddard, this grass-roots evangelising has led to a lot of Australian interest in the project. Port Stephens-based Murray's Craft Brewing Co are the first to confirm their support for SYNEK.

After SYNEK's prospective 2015 release, the company are planning to push the cartridge system in two phases. The initial is provide brewers with the support they need to fill cartridges at their brewery, and the second is to encourage the sale pre-filled cartridges. While early buyers of SYNEK will initially only have access to beers they can get locally, Stoddard said for ultimate goal is for "consumer to have access to any beer any ever made".

Stoddard was quick to highlight the differences between SYNEK and "fads" like Lion Nathan's Tap King, where interest quickly fizzled out. "They don't have the technology that we do, they don't come with refrigeration and refills are expensive". Another key difference is the user's ability to fill a cartridge with any beer they like.

Despite a positive response from both media and American brewers, Neal Cameron, head brewer for the Sydney-based Australian Brewery had some concerns. Having trialled growlers as alternative to selling bottled and canned beer, Cameron said that "most people just want to buy a four pack". As such, he's not quite ready to jump aboard the SYNEK band wagon, also citing the fad-like nature of Tap King.

Concerns aside, Cameron noted that SYNEK seems like a good innovation. "We'll await with interest".

SYNEK will retail for USD$349, but "early bird backers" have the option to pre-purchase the system on Kickstarter for USD$299.

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