In the craft brewing movement, packaging is a sticking point. Bottling and canning equipment is expensive, after all, and growlers don’t last long enough to be useful in many cases. Steve Young, an inventor and financial industry veteran, thinks he has a solution: boxed beer. Just don’t call it the next Franzia.
Young’s beer draft system, called Synek, features a cartridge pressurized with CO2 that can be filled from a keg, tap, or tank, along with a customized box for storage and dispensing. “The game-changing part is flexible packaging. Normally everything carbonated is in rigid containers, and these containers have to be filled with expensive equipment,” says Young. “This is the first flexible packaging that can withstand extreme pressures.”
In the company’s FAQ, Young claims that he has developed “the most durable flexible packaging for beer in the entire world,” with the ability to withstand pressure of 30 PSI–more than enough for most carbonated beverages. The packaging has a shelf life of at least 30 days, and Young claims that it doesn’t alter the taste of the beer (though we haven’t had the chance to try it out). Each gallon cartridge will cost under $2.99; the full system will be available for $299.
Synek recently launched on Kickstarter, where it is targeting home brewers. But ultimately, Young sees his market as small- to middle-tier craft brewers. The home brewers will be the ones to prove out the concept. “We have 300 breweries worldwide who have committed to filling beers with our system,” says Young.
The biggest problem, he believes, will be getting over the perception hurdle–that beer in a box is about as classy as wine in a box (which is not very classy at all).
One day, he imagines that his dispensers will be Wi-Fi enabled, with the ability to offer info on what beer you’re drinking, how much is left, and what other beers you might enjoy. All sorts of analytics, he speculates, will be available to brewers. “In a few years, it will be legal to ship beer to your door,” predicts Young. “When that happens, it will ship in an efficient cartridge.”