The Current

The Portable Beer Tap

Crowdsourced beer dispenser gives you access to any brew ever made, fresh on your kitchen counter—and maybe even beyond

SYNEK has tapped its draft station as the champion of the craft brewery world, bringing more than 700 brewers' creations to your kitchen in one system.     Photo: Courtesy of SYNEK

Beer lovers, rejoice! An open-source project has developed a portable beer tap that can dispense any kind of suds you want.

The company’s prototype, called the SYNEK draft system, sits on your kitchen counter and dispenses beer—even from the most obscure craft breweries. The secret behind this “Keurig for beer” is a new kind of flexible packaging that holds the equivalent of about eleven 12-ounce beer cans, says SYNEK strategic director Mike Werner. 

The idea is that any brewery can fill up the bags and ship them out in cartridges, which look like the boxes coffeehouses sell for meetings. Take a box home, pop it into the toaster-size SYNEK, and pour a cold one whenever you want. The cartridges keep the beer fresh for about 30 days and are as easy to store as a bag of ground coffee.

More than 700 breweries nationwide have already agreed to start packaging their beer in SYNEK-friendly containers. “We’re not asking any favors. We’re solving a problem for these breweries,” Werner says.

According to Werner, the SYNEK system will give small breweries, which couldn’t otherwise afford to distribute their product nationwide, a way to reach more drinkers. It’s a simpler distribution solution than growlers, which are tricky to transport, keep beer fresh for only a few days, and can taint the brew’s flavor.

The SYNEK bags, on the other hand, are inexpensive and don’t affect the flavor. “Breweries just want to make sure the product gets to your home as it was intended,” Werner says. “That’s what we’re all about.”

This magical draft machine offers one more exciting possibility. Werner says he doesn’t see why the SYNEK couldn’t one day be battery-operated—meaning you could have a super-portable beer tap on hand for, say, an all-day hike. A fresh, cold craft brew (not that subpar powdered stuff) in the middle of the woods? Now we’ve reached peak beer, in the best way.

The SYNEK System Kickstarter campaign, which far surpassed its $250,000 goal with more than two weeks to go, has harnessed the power (and ample funds) of beer enthusiasts. Looks like the first SYNEK machines will indeed roll out by spring 2015.

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