Lonely Planet Writer

Guinness is bringing its most experimental beers to its new Baltimore brewery this summer

Over the past decade, Baltimore’s brewing and distillery scene has exploded. Its latest addition, due to open in late summer of 2018, is the Guinness Open Gate Brewery & Barrel House, the second Guinness experimental brewery in the world after Open Gate Brewery in Dublin, Ireland.

This project is only the second Guinness experimental brewery other than Ireland.

The 66-acre Baltimore site was formerly the Maryland Whiskey Distillery, and some of the original “rickhouses”  – where whiskey was aged and stored – are currently being transformed into an industrial facility housing two-barrel, ten-barrel (for its experimental brews) and a 100-hectolitre system (for larger scale releases such as the Guinness Blonde Lager). The visitor’s centre will host an anticipated 250,000 visitors in its first year. As part of the visitor experience, die-hard beer lovers or soon-to-be ale aficionados can view the brewers at work and learn about the entire brewing process in one-hour tours, ending with beer samplings.

The new brewery aims to combine the traditional brewing experience with American beer ‘creativity’.

Two restaurants will offer local cuisine plus a beer pairing menu, while casual diners can grab casual bites from a selection of Baltimore food trucks and sit in the outdoor courtyard (its shape resembles a Guinness pint glass). The tap room will be open to both the public and those taking the tour. And, unlike its Irish counterpart, this facility features a barrel house, for aging the beers. As for the beers themselves? In a word: Inventive. Ryan Wagner, Brewery Ambassador, says the company has hired some of the most creative minds of American craft beer — Peter Wiens [formerly Stones], Holly Stephenson [formerly Highland Brewing] and Sean Brennan [formerly Jolly Pumpkin] – “and it will give them a ‘loose rein’ to see what they can come up with.”

Guinness Storehouse
The Guinness Storehouse in Dublin is the most visited tourist attraction in Ireland. Image by James Gabriel Martin

“These craft beers will run the gamut in terms of style, flavor profile, gravity. There really is no limit; we want to give people as much of a variation as we can,” Wagner tells Lonely Planet News. Beers currently offered in the brewery’s temporary tap room – currently housed in a location nearby, this will close when the main one opens – include Pale Ale, IPAs, a milk stout and Belgian stout. The legendary Draught, GES and FES stouts will be brewed in Dublin only.

Brewers Aisling Ryan, Feodora Heavey and Jason Carroll at  the Open Gate Brewery at St James’s Gate, Dublin. Image by Maxwells/Guinness/PA Wire

Wagner says there’s a plan to have an onsite mural along the lines of one in the Irish brewery, that states: If we can dream it, we can brew it. “That’s the whole purpose of this brewery: we get to test market on people that come into the brewery and see what they tell us about our beers and what they like and don’t like. Once we find out, we get to send the beer far and wide, if we choose to do that.”

Words: Kate Armstrong