July 30, 2018 – Guinness, the iconic Irish brewer, will open a new brewery in Relay, Maryland this Friday, August 3. It’s 64 years ago that Guinness closed its brewery in New York.
The new facility known as the Guinness Open Gate Brewery and Barrel House is located in a former Seagram’s bottling plant which Guinness owner, Diageo, acquired when it bought Seagram in 2001. In the interim it has been used to bottle and age Captain Morgan Spiced Rum.
Taproom tastings will be available and the company plans to experiment and test new beers such as IPAs and other styles and flavors. This will allow them to respond quickly to trends, the company says. Guinness Blonde American Lager, currently contract brewed in Latrobe, PA, will be produced there for North American distribution. It is the only Guinness beer brewed in the United States. The black stout, which has made Guinness famous worldwide, will be available imported from Ireland.
Guinness Open Gate Brewery and Barrel House sits on 62 acres. The revamped site will provide as many as 300,000 tourists a year with tours (both paid and unpaid), tastings and a 270 seat restaurant. The restaurant won’t have TVs in order to promote conversation. (Better ban cell phones in that case.) All this will add 200 jobs in hospitality and up to 150 in brewing so the politicians in Baltimore County are happy. However, they didn’t make it easy, as we reported back in February 2017. Diageo wanted a license to sell 5000 barrels of beer to tasting room consumers. They worked with the Brewers Association of Maryland who wanted all breweries to have a fair shot and agreed to 4000 barrels. But the Maryland State Licensed Beverage Association, representing distributors, retailers and restaurants, other ideas and their bill limited hours and tastings at breweries.
Tracking the shenanigans and skullduggery of what went on between the two Houses in Maryland truly did resemble watching sausage being made and it wasn’t a pretty sight. In the end, a Bill was passed but some provisions, a cynic might say, do appear to be related to campaign donations. For example if a large brewery producing more than 1 million barrels annually wants to sell beer made off the premises, they have to buy that beer from the wholesaler/distributor in order to do this. So Guinness will have to buy its own beer that is made elsewhere, say Dublin.
And there’s more. Breweries of a certain class that want to sell between 2000 and 3000 barrels of beer made on the premises to consumers via the taproom have to purchase the last 1000 barrels from the wholesaler. But come Friday, everybody will be in celebratory mood and all will be well with the world.
Guinness dates back to 1759 when it was first brewed by Arthur Guinness at the St. James Gate brewery in Dublin. In December of that year he signed a 9,000 year lease at $45 per year for the unused brewery and the rest, as they say, is history.