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Beer Lovers: Don’t Miss the Guinness Open Gate Brewery

The beer brand’s Open Gate Brewery & Barrel House in Baltimore merges Dublin’s heritage with Baltimore’s charm to create a must-visit brewery experience.

At the only stateside Guinness brewery, the first in the U.S. in more than 60 years, you can take a tour of the beer-making facilities, sample one-of-a-kind experimental brews and get a taste of the iconic Guinness experience.

Hop Around

The Guinness Experience

Learn about what sets Guinness apart from the competition

The Open Gate Brewery has brought all the best parts of what you expect from Guinness in Ireland and combined it with local flair and modern innovation. Take a free tour of the facility to see behind the scenes insights into how the beer is made and learn about the centuries of history of the building which once distilled whiskey.

Close-up shot of beer in a glass

Guinness Open Gate Brewery is the only American Guinness factory, and it’s right here, in Maryland.

It’s a very Guinness thing to respect history and to make sure people remember it, but also build on it. Evolving while still valuing the history that came before.
Hollie Stephenson
Head Brewer

Grab a pint or a try a sampler. The brewery has already crafted more than 200 recipes since opening in 2018, like the Over the Moon milk stout. And, you can take a little bit of Guinness home with you with 4- or 6-packs sold on site.

Also available in the taproom are the classic drafts Guinness lovers will expect: Guinness Blonde, Guinness IPA and Guinness Milk Stout (all brewed in Baltimore), and Guinness Draught, Guinness 200th Anniversary Export Stout and Guinness Foreign Extra Stout (always brewed in Dublin and exported to Baltimore). Check the brewery’s Facebook and Instagram pages to see what’s on tap.

Beyond the Beer

Grab a bite with your drink

Plate of sausages and Brussels sprouts

The brewery’s food truck in their beer garden has a rotating menu so there’s always something new to try.

The brewery offers a pub-style menu representative of the regions where Guinness is available, with nods to Maryland cuisine as well. Sample dishes like fish and chips, corned beef or Maryland crab cakes.

The lawn outside the brewery is perfect for families in the warmer weather with plenty of seating and a food truck for a quick bite. Check the event schedule for special celebrations and live entertainment.

Keeping it Local

Maryland pride shines through

Guinness chose Baltimore as its American headquarters because of our growing craft beer scene. The Guinness team regularly collaborates with local craft brewers like Heavy Seas and Diamondback Brewing. They also source ingredients from local purveyors, including honey from Apex Bee Company and coffee from Vent Coffee Roasters, for new beers.

The brewery has also embraced Maryland pride in the form of apparel, stickers, drinkware and other swag featuring our iconic gold, red, black and white flag. Guinness Blonde, the brewery’s flagship beer, comes in cans emblazoned with the Maryland flag and the words “Brewed in Baltimore.” It’s the first fusion beer from the brewer, combining the best European techniques with the finest American ingredients and a dose of Baltimore charm.

Person putting a case of beer in a car

Guinness Blonde, brewed in Baltimore, was updated by the brewers at Open Gate.

History

About Guinness beer and brewery

The launch of the Guinness Open Gate Brewery & Barrel House marks the first time a stateside Guinness brewery has existed since 1954, giving you the chance to enjoy innovative, experimental and barrel-aged beers without crossing the pond. During the free brewery tour, learn all about Guinness history, including the creation of John Gilroy’s iconic zoo animal ads, the scientific development of nitro kegs and the story of Guinness’ 9,000-year lease in Dublin. For a small fee, sample the latest drafts at the end of your tour.

The site of the only American Guinness factory is as historic as it is remarkable, as it lies directly on Washington Boulevard where Maryland’s first legal distillery after Prohibition flourished for decades. The Maryland Distilling Company opened in 1933 and was eventually bought by Joseph E. Seagram & Sons, a distiller of Canadian whiskey that was once the largest owner of alcoholic beverage lines in the world.

In 2001, Diageo, a British alcohol producer, took over and made the plant its own. While the beverages made and served have changed to beer, the memories of past distillers still remain in the form of leftover barrels and swabs that the brewers use for experimentation.

Q&A

Get to Know Head Brewer Hollie Stephenson

Portrait of Hollie Stephenson

Hollie Stephenson is leading the charge for Guinness brewing, coming up with new flavors and concepts.

Head Brewer Hollie Stephenson is a rarity in her field—in 2014, according to a Stanford University study of 1,700 breweries, only four percent had a female head brewer or brewmaster. She joined Guinness Open Gate Brewery & Barrel House when it opened in 2018 after stints at Stone in San Diego and Highland in Asheville. Here, she’s able to experiment with new recipes and ingredients to create beers that Guinness drinkers have never seen before, and many that are only available at the brewery’s  taproom. Some limited releases dreamed up by Stephenson include a blonde lager, a coffee stout made with Baltimore-based Vent Coffee Roasters coffee, and a Saison Blanc, which is made using Sauvignon Blanc grape must.

You came to Baltimore from Asheville, another popular craft beer destination with the most breweries per capita in the U.S. What drew you to Baltimore to work for Guinness?

I lived in Washington, D.C. for 10 years in my first career so I knew Baltimore well, and I knew I loved it already. So when this opportunity came up it wasn’t a huge risk because it was a place that was familiar. I always loved South Baltimore and being by the harbor, and Mount Vernon, Fell’s Point too. There was always just such an artsy and easygoing community vibe in the neighborhoods I used to hang out in. Funny enough, I used to come to the city regularly to go to Max’s Taphouse in Fell’s Point. Before I even went to brewing school I was just fangirling over the bottle list at Max’s. They’re like pioneers in what they do, offering so many imported and craft beers in one place.

Diageo has said before that they picked Baltimore because of our fast-growing craft beer scene, but why do you think Baltimore is the perfect place for Guinness’ only American brewery?

There are obvious synergies if you look at Guinness’ roots. I mean, there is a Baltimore in Ireland. Between being on the coast in Ireland and being on the water here, and this being an oyster and crab and seafood town—Guinness has always been into beer and seafood, so there were just some natural synergies there.

What does this specific location, originally the home of Maryland Distilling Company, opened in 1933, and then Seagram, offer to Guinness?

People might not realize [it] but this site is very similar in size and acreage to St. James Gate in Dublin. What we’ve done here is keep as much of the old structure as we possibly can. We put a lot of time and money and effort into keeping it structurally sound rather than build in a field somewhere. It’s a very Guinness thing to respect history and to make sure people remember it, but also build on it. Evolving while still valuing the history that came before.

You’ve already worked with a few local breweries and purveyors. Can we expect to see more of that in the future?

Absolutely. We have a Crosslands series where at least quarterly we’ll put on a beer that either features a Maryland ingredient prominently or is made of all Maryland ingredients. The Crosslands Honey Ale is made with raw, local wildflower honey from Apex Bee Company who has hives just 1.5 miles from the brewery.

What are your goals for the brewery?

We want to continue to be the home of Guinness blonde which is made right here on site. But beyond that, the pilot brewery is the testing ground for what might move to the production hall next. Half of what we make will never have a chance at being scaled up to production, but that’s where we really get to play and do stuff we wouldn’t normally get to do.

Barrel-aging is another big piece of what we do. We did a beer for our one-year anniversary. We brewed an imperial stout and we put it into Bulleit bourbon barrels and then we brewed a Belgian golden ale and put it into old rum barrels from this site and blended them together as the grand cru for our anniversary party. It’s a blend of our partners within Diageo and a wink to the history of aging barrels on this site.

Four glasses of beer lined up on a bar

The experimental beers on tap at Open Gate are all brewed locally in Charm City.

You were named the 2019 beer person of the year by Imbibe and you’re one of very few female leading brewers. Do you feel any responsibility with that?

Absolutely. It’s not something where I just look forward to the day where I don’t have to talk about it anymore. I support the Pink Boots Society which is an organization that devotes nearly all its money to scholarships for women in beer. That’s really important to me. Ensuring representation and diversity in hiring processes—just bringing other women along with me and involving them. And it’s not just brewers, it’s involving women in every stage along the way. One of my favorite partnerships in Baltimore has been with Sarah at Vent Coffee Roasters to create our coffee stout.

What are some of your favorite spots in Baltimore? Where do you recommend a visitor go?

Most of my favorite things to do in Baltimore have to do with eating and drinking. I love the 23rd Street corridor in Remington with Fadensonnen, Clavel and W.C. Harlan. I like all of Cindy Wolf’s restaurants. I love Little Italy. I’m super stoked for Cross Street Market to be back open. I love Mount Vernon Marketplace and I’ve been going to Broadway Market. Barfly’s is an absolute go to for salad and pizza. Cocina Luchadores is my favorite, favorite for tacos. I also love the American Visionary Art Museum because they’re all self-taught or amateur artists and reading their stories about what they’ve gone through is incredible. Take a Water Taxi to get there!