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Diageo investment in historic Relay facility to boost beer tourism

The new Guinness Open Gate Brewery & Barrel House in Baltimore County moved another step closer to serving its first brew. The Board of Liquor License Commissioners for Baltimore County has unanimously approved an on-premise consumption permit for the new taproom in Relay in southwest Baltimore County.

“We are thrilled to support Diageo as they revive an historic Baltimore County building with the iconic Guinness brand. This approval is a key next step in creating a world-class tourist destination that will bring new investment, new jobs, and an exciting brew experience,” said Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz.

The new Guinness brewing capability and visitor experience, combined with a packaging and warehousing operation, would bring Diageo’s investment in Relay to approximately $50 million and create up to 70 new jobs.

“Diageo, the company that owns the Guinness brand, brought a well thought-out plan to the liquor board. The board enthusiastically voted to approve a permit for the new Guinness taproom,” said Charles Klein, chair of the Board of Liquor License Commissioners for Baltimore County.

The on-premise consumption permit for a Class 5 brewery was modified during the 2017 Maryland General Assembly legislative session to provide Maryland breweries additional capacity to sell beer that is brewed on-site at their taprooms.

“We’re delighted the County liquor board has granted the Guinness Open Gate Brewery & Barrel House approval for our tavern license. We are also appreciative for the spirit of partnership that Baltimore County government, the County Executive and the County Council have extended to us. We are excited to open up our brewery next year to visitors and be a part of something that will help strengthen Maryland tourism, the local brewing community and boost economic growth,” said Dwayne Kratt, Diageo’s Senior Director of Government Relations Northeast.

The project would re-establish a Guinness brewery in the United States after 63 years of absence. Relay was chosen as the preferred location for this project for 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. 

"Here's to our growing beer trail," added Kamenetz.  

An opening date for the project has not been announced. 


Business-friendly approach would support large and small brewers, local bars and liquor stores

Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz sent the following letter today to Senator Joan Carter Conway, Chair of the Senate Committee on Education, Health and Environmental Affairs, urging state lawmakers to strike a balance between large and small breweries throughout the State with House Bill 1283. The text of his letter is below:

 

April 3, 2017

 

Honorable Joan Carter Conway, Chair

Education, Health and Environmental Affairs

2 West Miller Senate Office Building

11 Bladen Street

Annapolis, Maryland 21401

 

Re:  Class 5 Breweries’ Legislation (HB 1283)
 

Dear Chairwoman Conway,

As you know, Diageo announced its intention to build a US version of Dublin’s popular Guinness Open Gate Brewery in southwest Baltimore County. The Company plans to build a mid-sized Guinness brewery and a Guinness visitor experience with an innovation microbrewery at the company’s Relay 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 and create up to 70 new jobs. The new brewery would be a home for new Guinness beers created for the US market. 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, creating a major tourism attraction for the region. 

Diageo is seeking legislative changes to accommodate their investment. Different groups have weighed in on the best way to accomplish these goals.  I offer the following thoughts:

1.  Increase barrels.  The craft brewery industry all seem to favor an increase.

2.  Allow craft breweries the right to sell their other products, even if not manufactured on site.

3.  Let local law establish hours of operation.  This avoids the current conflict.

We believe allowing the growth of craft breweries will enhance the demand at local bars and liquor stores.  Because the selection at the taphouse is limited to beer, it will not compete with establishments offering a full selection of beverages. 

Baltimore County Government supports the Diageo project in Relay as well as the craft breweries throughout the State. Thank you for your efforts to clarify this legislation. 


Very truly yours,

Kevin Kamenetz
Baltimore County Executive


KK:


cc:       Honorable Members, Committee on Education, Health and Environmental Affairs

Honorable Thomas V. Mike Miller, Jr. President of the Senate

Honorable Michael E. Busch, Speaker of the House

Honorable Dereck Davis, Chair, Committee on Economic Matters

Honorable Members, Baltimore County Senate and House Delegation

Dwayne Kratt, Senior Director of Government Affairs at Diageo

Kevin Atticks, Executive Director of Brewers Association of Maryland


Diageo today announced its intention to build a US version of Dublin’s popular Guinness Open Gate Brewery in southwest Baltimore County. The company plans to build a mid-sized Guinness brewery and a Guinness visitor experience with an innovation microbrewery at the company’s Relay 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 and create up to 70 new jobs. 

“Beer tourism is about to boom in Baltimore County. We are thrilled that Diageo is reviving an historic building with the iconic Guinness brand. This will be a world-class tourist destination that will bring new jobs and become the perfect complement to our Maryland craft breweries,” said Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz.  

The new brewery would be a home for new Guinness beers created for the US market. 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.

“The Guinness Open Gate Brewery in Dublin is a popular new addition to St. James’s Gate brewery and the Guinness Storehouse, one of Ireland’s top tourist destinations,” stated Tom Day, President, Diageo Beer Company USA.  “We want to leverage our 250 years of brewing heritage and bring the success and excitement of the Guinness visitor experience in Ireland to Baltimore County. We believe a replication of the Open Gate Brewery in Relay will benefit residents and our industry partners, including beer distributors and on- and off-premise retailers, as well as increase overall tourism for the region.” 

The project would re-establish a Guinness brewery in the US after 63 years of absence. The new brewery and visitor experience would become part of Diageo’s production facility in Relay, site of the historic Calvert Distillery which opened in 1933. 

Relay was chosen as the preferred location for this project for 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.  

Up to 70 new jobs expected 

While specifics are still being evaluated, it is estimated that the project could generate approximately 40 jobs in brewing, warehousing and an agile packaging operation, which may include canning, bottling and kegging. The Guinness visitor experience could create approximately additional 30 jobs. A significant number of construction jobs would also be created during the building phase, and the company would endeavor to hire as many local firms as possible to conduct this work.

Tom Quirk, Chair of the Baltimore County Council whose district encompasses the Relay site, stated, “More than just a brewery, this is a significant investment in our community that represents a new direction for the historic Relay facility. This will be a strong boost for tourism, not only in the county, but the entire region.”

“This will be an exciting addition to Baltimore County’s vibrant tourism scene. Visitors will discover an authentic taproom experience in a unique, historic building,” said Hal Ashman, chair of the Baltimore County Tourism Advisory Council.

Diageo hopes to receive approvals and to begin construction this spring with the goal of opening the brewery in fall 2017 to mark the 200th anniversary of Guinness being first imported into the US.   

The iconic Guinness Stouts will continue to be brewed at St. James’s Gate in Dublin, Ireland. The Guinness brand was established in 1759 when Arthur Guinness signed a 9,000 year lease on St. James’s Gate Brewery in Dublin.  

 


 
 
Revised September 26, 2016