American fans of Irish stout no longer need to travel to Dublin for a taste of Guinness in its homeland. Guinness toasted the opening of its Open Gate Brewery & Barrel House on August 3, 2018, in Relay, Maryland. This is the first Guinness brewery in the US in more than six decades. There was a Long Island, New York brewery in the 50’s quickly shuttered, sending production back to Dublin. Guinness brewery is touting the Maryland brewery as one of the only two experimental breweries in the world. The other one is the original Guinness Storehouse in Dublin, Ireland.
Guinness Brewery Maryland: The Tourist Destination
The new Guinness brewery is located just 10 miles outside of Baltimore. Guinness Open Gate stands on a 62-acre property owned by Diageo, its parent company. Diageo, which has owned the property since 2001, is the world’s largest global spirits brand. It produces Johnnie Walker, Bulleit, Don Julio, and Crown Royal among others.
Open Gate required more than 2,000 construction workers to build in nine months, and what they have created is more than just a quaint brewery. With its signature harp insignia, Open Gate stands as a hulking tourist attraction and a beer enthusiast’s dream destination. It has a taproom, a brew house, a restaurant, and a gift shop, all of which can accommodate about 300,000 visitors annually. Independent tours can be done by visitors, and browse exhibits that show the Guinness brewery history and beer-making process. Guided tours will be available next month, right around Labor Day.
The Guinness brewery taproom serves 16 types of beer which includes several of its signature stouts, and the Crosslands Pale Ale made with barley and hops grown in Maryland.
While inside taprooms, visitors go on a short social media hiatus. Electronics like TVs and smartphones are absent inside the taprooms and restaurants. Guinness wants beer drinkers to disconnect from the world for a while, take in the environment, and appreciate the unique drinking experience. This is how Guinness brewery wants to build its brand in the US—by showing how tasting rooms are critical in creating a connection with Guinness.
Visitors can also roam its sprawling outdoor space that can hold 4,000 guests, where they can drink and relax in Adirondack chairs. However, Guinness Open Gate isn’t selling cases of beer yet, but patrons can fill up their growlers in select areas.
Guinness Brewery Maryland is Different from Dublin
Guinness brewery is iconic for its thick and dark stout. But in the Maryland Open Gate, its flagship beer is the Guinness Blonde American Lager, a light, and effervescent version. The original stout is imported from Ireland, and the Blonde American Lager is currently the only beer made on site. Its current tap list includes an IPA, Citra-hopped wit, and a cherry stout, to name a few. The Guinness brewery expects to develop between four and six new beers that will be regionally and nationally distributed.
Guinness brewery is currently in the ninth position in terms of sales in the United States. Opening Guinness Open Gate is their strategy to grow their market, and help Diageo penetrate the $111 billion industry.
The Guinness brewery Maryland is championing catering to high-volume production, as well as small-scale experimental brewery. It has a 100-hectoliter production brewery that processes its Blonde American Lager for national distribution. It also has a 10-barrel experimental brewery which lets brewers play around with different recipes and flavors for taproom customers. Having this small system enables them to test new compositions without committing to a huge batch.
Maryland as a location could also prove to be a strong strategic move. Guinness Open Gate sits on the site of the old Maryland Distilling Company. Guinness brewery is also owned by Diageo, so there is a possibility for large-scale utilization of leftover barrels from previous productions of other brands. This would give richer, deeper flavors than ever before should they wish to age them in these barrels.
Enriching a Community with Guinness Beer
As Guinness Open Gate resides in Baltimore, it reinforces the region’s rich history that dates back to colonial times. This was also the site of operations that opened after prohibition ended, and Guinness aims to once again be the center of exploration and innovation in barrel-aging.
America is also the capital of other spirits like whiskey. But bringing Guinness brewery back is an American milestone that enriches the tapestry of American-made spirits. It highlights a vibrant culture and community not just in Baltimore, but also in the rest of the country.