Winter 2020 Exclusive

Guinness’ Baltimore Brewery: Where New and Old World Collide

You can still drop by to enjoy a pint of Guinness Draught, but this new brewery is all about innovative, American-style beer.

A little over a year ago, Guinness opened a shiny new brewery inside a renovated distillery just north of Baltimore – a place for Americans to experience 260 years of Guinness culture, without having to cross the proverbial pond to visit the venerable St. James Gate Brewery. But what to name this new gateway to Guinness? How about Open Gate Brewery and Barrel House.

While at first glance it might feel like you’ve been transported to Dublin, the Open Gate Brewery and Barrel House is no mere reproduction of the facility on the old sod, it’s a state-of-the-art laboratory, hyper-focused on experimental, American craft beers. Surprised? We were too.

Ryan Wagner

“To take a brand like Guinness,
with this much heritage and
history and create [a new brewery] that’s focused on American
craft beer, was a risk,”
says Guinness Brewery Ambassador
Ryan Wagner. “No
one could have predicted what
was going to happen.”

“In the first year, our 10-barrel system brewed over 100 different beers,” Wagner says. So if you think Saint Patrick’s Day is the only time to tip back a beer from Guinness, think again. According to Wagner, whether it’s their new Barrel-Aged Stock Ale, Harbor Pils or Coconut Porter, innovation is now the name of the game with Guinness. “When people taste these beers, it’s not hard to convince them to come on this journey with us.”

Taking the journey to visit this new brewery is an experience unlike any other. “We’re a bar with a museum built around it,” says Wagner. Step inside and you’ll instantly see that this is a place where the stories and legacy of Guinness come to life – and will continue to evolve moving forward. Spend an hour on their signature brewery tour to learn all about their 260-year heritage – everything from Arthur Guinness’ legendary 9000-year lease, to the world-famous Gilroy artwork, which adorns the walls of the brewery.

Grab a stool at their spacious taproom to try everything from their traditional Foreign Extra Stout, to a brand-new IPA. Or sit down for a proper meal at their stunning 1817 Restaurant, with fare that celebrates both Chesapeake Bay seafood and traditional Irish pub dishes.

Guests are quick to discover why this new facility is celebrated as an ode to Irish heritage and American creativity.

When the concept for the new brewery was first announced, many consumers naturally assumed that the new facility would be all about stouts. “The initial thinking from a consumer standpoint is ‘Oh, you opened this new brewery so you can brew stouts in America.’ But we decided we didn’t want to do just that,” says Wagner. So, while you can still stop in to enjoy a classic Guinness Draught, expertly poured, fresh off the tap, Wagner says, “Our stouts are always going to come from Ireland. That’s important to us. This brewery is the innovation hub for Guinness.”

While still in the planning stages, the team at Guinness knew it was important for this experimentation to be helmed, not by brewers from Ireland, but by American brewers. “There is nowhere on earth more dedicated to beer innovation and experimentation than America,” says Wagner. “We understood if this was going to be a brewery dedicated to authentic craft beer innovation, it had to have American brewers.”

Along with innovation, this new brewery has also taken special pride in its adopted hometown of Baltimore. The beers of their ever evolving Crosslands series each feature one ingredient that comes from Maryland. “I’m a Baltimore native,” smiles Wagner. “It’s a blue-collar town, always has been. We’re not fancy, but we take care of things that are ours and now that includes this brewery. It’s a perfect fit and I can say Guinness has bought in 100%.”

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Draught Lines

Draught Lines is a seasonal magazine dedicated to the craft beer experience.