Few beer brands are as iconically intertwined with their country of origin as Guinness. And while it’s true that if you go on enough brewery tours they can become a bit redundant, going to Dublin, Ireland, and visiting the Guinness Storehouse – the closest place I’ve ever seen to a “Disneyland of beer” – is a fulfilling experience. But if you took the Storehouse out of Ireland, would it still be worth the trip? Diageo, the international booze giant behind Guinness, hopes so. It’s planning to open a Guinness Storehouse and brewery right here in the United States.
Earlier this week, Diageo announced that it intends to take a former Seagram’s bottling plant in Relay, Maryland – a small town in Baltimore County – and turn it into a Guinness playground, featuring not just a production brewery, but also a smaller pilot brewery for testing out new products as well as a full visitors’ center where Guinness fans could ostensibly do similar activities to what’s available in the Dublin brewery – things like tasting sessions and lessons on how to pour the perfect Guinness pint. Assuming the project gets the final approval, construction could begin as early as this spring and the facility could open as soon as this fall. It would also mark the first time Guinness has brewed any products in the US in 63 years.
Of course, many people claim that being brewed in Ireland is what makes Guinness’s signature stout so remarkable, and Diageo stressed that for the American market, that will not change. In a statement to Fortune the company said, “The new brewery would be a home for new Guinness beers created for the US market, while the iconic Guinness Stouts will continue to be brewed at St. James’s Gate in Dublin, Ireland.” In recent years, Guinness has been aggressively trying to find its niche in the America’s craft beer-centric market, releasing products like Guinness Blonde American Lager and Guinness Nitro IPA, so far to little fanfare. But having a brewery in the US could theoretically make these efforts a bit more nimble. “Opening a Guinness brewery and visitor center in the US will enable us to collaborate with fellow brewers and interact with the vibrant community of beer drinkers,” Diageo Beer Company USA President Tom Day was quoted as saying.