Get excited, Baltimore!
Guinness is one of the world’s most beloved beers — and unlike other brands owned by massive international companies (in this case, Diageo), Guinness tends to duck some of the criticism felt by other big-name brews. Maybe it’s because the stout-focused brewery has made a name for itself with something other than a pale lager. Or maybe America really is just obsessed with its Irish heritage. Regardless, Guinness is about to test how strong American goodwill for the brand really is: The Irish-based brewer has announced the opening date for its first U.S. outpost in 64 years…and visitors are definitely being encouraged to stop by.
On August 3, Guinness will throw open the doors to its new Guinness Open Gate Brewery & Barrel House in Relay, Maryland — part of Baltimore County about ten miles south of the city heading towards Washington D.C. The brewer last owned its own brewery in the U.S. way back in 1954 after a brief stint making beers in New York. The new site, which was first announced back in January of last year, will not only serve as a production facility, but also as a public-facing Guinness experience for beer lovers on this side of the Atlantic.
Guinness already opened a “Test Taproom” back in October in anticipation of the larger opening this summer. Come August, that taproom will be joined by a 270-seat restaurant and full visitor center as well as opportunities for things like guided and self-guided tours that include the chance to gaze upon over 100 artifacts brought over from the original brewery in Dublin. Needless to say, you’ll be able to buy Guinness gear and beer too.
Speaking of which, beer will certainly play a major role: There are 92 taps in total, all of them serving Guinness products, according to The Baltimore Sun. Oddly enough, despite the new location’s production capabilities, Guinness Stout will still be imported to the taproom and restaurant from Ireland; Instead, the new brewery will focus on its Guinness Blonde American Lager and other beers the brand hopes will appeal to a craft-loving American audience. “I think what people will be more excited to see are the [India pale ales], the Belgian-inspired beers, sours, barrel-aged beers,” Ryan Wagner, a brand ambassador, was quoted as saying. “There’s no limit to the creativity. If we can dream it, we can do it.”
In all, Guinness is hoping that the new brewery will bring out 300,000 visitors in its first year. Whether you’d rather visit a secondary Guinness brewery over one of your independent local breweries is up to you. However, here’s one thing you don’t have to worry about: Despite rumors to the contrary, my professional opinion is that Guinness doesn’t really taste any better when you drink it in Ireland, so if you’re debating between visiting the brewery in Dublin or Baltimore, it might be worth saving the cash and staying closer to home.