The South Baltimore brewing and distilling industry has experienced a lot of growth in the last 12 months and now South Baltimore County is getting in on the act right across the city/county line. Diageo Beer Company USA announced it is opening a Guinness brewery at its facility in Relay at 5001 Washington Blvd. The historic site known as the Calvert Distillery was once a home for Seagrams and was recently used to bottle Diageo’s products including Johnnie Walker, Crown Royal, Bulleit, and Buchanan’s whiskies; Smirnoff, Cîroc, and Ketel One vodkas; Captain Morgan; Baileys; and Don Julio.
This will be the first Guinness brewery in the United States in 63 years. Diageo credited the decision to open a new brewery as a result of its recent increase in American sales including a 3% increase over the past six months
Diageo is calling the facility a US version of Dublin’s popular Guinness Open Gate Brewery.
About the plan from a press release:
As currently planned, the company would build a mid-sized Guinness brewery and a Guinness visitor experience with an innovation microbrewery at the company’s existing Relay, Maryland site. This new brewing capability and consumer experience, combined with a packaging and warehousing operation, would bring the company’s investment in Relay to approximately $50 million. 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. Visitors would be able to tour the working brewery, sample experimental beers brewed on-site at the taproom, and purchase Guinness merchandise at the retail store. While finalization of these plans is still contingent on reaching agreement on several considerations, the project would represent a significant investment in Maryland in terms of economic development, job creation and tourism.
Relay was chosen as the preferred location for this project for several reasons, including the site’s proximity to major East Coast tourist and population hubs, availability of skilled employees, and space to build and adapt existing structures on the property. While many specifics are still being evaluated, it is estimated that this project could generate approximately 40 jobs in brewing, warehousing and an agile packaging operation, which may include canning, bottling and kegging. In addition, the Guinness visitor experience part of the project could create approximately 30 jobs. A significant number of construction jobs would likely also be created during the building phase, and the company would endeavor to hire as many local firms as possible to conduct this work.
Diageo hopes to receive approvals and to begin construction this spring with the goal of opening the brewery this fall to mark the 200th anniversary of Guinness being first imported into the US.
“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,” stated Tom Day, president of Diageo Beer Company, USA, in a press release. “Given the success of our Open Gate Brewery in Dublin and the popularity of beer tourism in the US, we are confident that Americans will welcome the opportunity to come experience Guinness brewing in Baltimore County. We appreciate the support we have received so far from state and local officials and look forward to continuing to contribute to the local community.”
“Guinness’ plan to build a brewery at its historic facility in Relay, MD is great news for job creation, manufacturing, and tourism in our state,” said Governor Larry Hogan in a press release. “Beer tourism attracts millions of visitors to towns and communities across the country every year and I look forward to welcoming Guinness to the roster of excellent breweries we have here in Maryland.”
Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot said, “Today’s announcement is an exciting development for Maryland’s thriving tourism industry and our state’s burgeoning, award-winning brewing sector. The Guinness facility will be a strong boost for our economy by creating good-paying jobs for Marylanders and by attracting visitors from across the region and the country. I am optimistic that all stakeholders will come together and work collaboratively with the General Assembly to ensure that this innovative project moves forward.”
“Baltimore County is thrilled that Diageo is reviving an historic building with the iconic Guinness brand. The brewery and tap house has all the hallmarks to become a popular tourist destination and will be a perfect complement to our local craft breweries,” said Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz.
The new Guinness Brewery is less than two miles from Heavy Seas’ production facility and tap room in Halethorpe. Diamondback Brewing Co. recently opened a production brewery and tap room in Locust Point; Suspended Brewing Company will be opening a production facility and tap room in Pigtown this year; and Checkerspot will be opening a production facility and tap room this year near M&T Bank Stadium. Sagamore Spirit is putting the finishing touches on a distillery and restaurant in Port Covington.
Renderings Courtesy of Diageo USA