By the end of the year, Guinness lovers who want to sample beers fresh from the brewery’s taps won’t need to hop on a plane to Dublin — they’ll just have to get in their car and drive on Interstate 95. Diageo Beer Company USA, the parent company of Guinness, announced Tuesday that it plans to build an American version of Dublin’s Open Gate Brewery in Relay, Maryland, which lies between Ellicott City and BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport. The site, once home to the landmark Calvert Distillery, is now used for aging and storing Captain Morgan rum. (Captain Morgan is another brand in Diageo’s wide-ranging international portfolio.)
Guinness Stout, the company’s flagship beer, will still be brewed at the famous St. James’s Gate Brewery in Dublin, while the new facility “will be a home for new Guinness beers created for the U.S. market, including Guinness Blonde American Lager, as well as creations by the brewers here,” says Alix Dunn, a Diageo spokeswoman.
As stout sales have slumped in recent years, Guinness has been rapidly diversifying its product line in an attempt to appeal to drinkers’ changing tastes, adding historically inspired Dublin and West Indies porters and Antwerpen Stout, as well as more modern Nitro Pale Ale and Blonde American Lager. But the company, known for its traditional beers, has also given free rein to brewers at Open Gate, a smaller-scale pilot brewery in Dublin, to create recipes like the Rye Pale Ale, which made a leap from the Open Gate taproom to bottles last year.
But the big news is that Guinness will be brewed in America for the first time since 1954, when the company closed its short-lived brewery in Long Island City, New York, and moved production back to Dublin. “Opening a Guinness brewery and visitor center in the U.S. will enable us to collaborate with fellow brewers and interact with the vibrant community of beer drinkers,” Tom Day, president of Diageo Beer, said in a statement.
If you’ve been to St. James’s Gate, you know that it’s as much a Guinness museum as a brewery. Relay won’t have the same amenities — including the Gravity Bar’s views of the Dublin skyline — but Diageo has planned a “Guinness visitor experience” in America with tours, a full tasting room with experimental brews and, of course, a retail store. Between the brewery and the visitor center, Diageo estimates, the brewery will create about 70 jobs.
A news release from Diageo reiterates that “finalization of these plans is still contingent on reaching agreement on several considerations,” including the issuing of construction permits, but the target opening date is mid-October, which will also mark 200 years since the first Guinness was shipped to the United States.