Guinness is planning to spend about $50 million to open a brewery in Maryland, bringing brewing capabilities back to the United States for the first time after decades away from the market.
The Irish beer’s parent company Diageo (DEO, +0.32%) on Tuesday announced it would build a U.S. version of Dublin’s Guinness Open Gate Brewery in Baltimore County, Maryland. Under the current plans Diageo unveiled, the facility would include a Guinness brewery, packaging and warehouse operations, and an innovation microbrewery at the company’s existing site in Relay, Maryland. “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,” Diageo said.
What that means is that while Diageo will continue to import Guinness Stouts from Ireland, Guinness Blonde and newer innovative beers that are intended for the U.S. beer drinker will be developed and produced locally in Maryland.
“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,” said Diageo Beer Company USA President Tom Day.
Day also touted the popularity of beer tourism in the U.S. and that likely looks like a motivating factor. It is estimated that more than 10 million people tour craft breweries annually in the U.S., and brands like Guinness, while not craft, would be a big draw as well. Breweries and liquor distilleries have invested millions in making their facilities a tourist destination as a way to fuel interest in their brand and thus increase sales. The Guinness brewery will have a visitor experience that plays into that growing trend—as the Irish brand intends to provide tours, beer sampling in a taproom, and sell Guinness merchandise at a retail store.
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The brewery’s role in product experimentation is also notable. Day and other beer executives have long noted that American beer drinkers are more interested in tasting new styles and brand, as evident from the growing popularity of the craft beer movement and newer alcohol trends like hard sodas and ciders. With that in mind, it makes sense that Diageo and Guinness would want to invest in some U.S.-focused innovation stateside.
Diageo said that it estimates that the brewery will result in about 40 jobs in brewing, warehousing and other facility roles, while the visitor experience aspect of the project could generate an additional 30 jobs.
The investment in Guinness reflects the brand’s importance within the broader Diageo Beer Company, which also includes ales like Smithwick’s and Harp and flavored malt beverage brand Smirnoff Ice. Last week when Diageo reported sales for the first half of the fiscal year, it reported that in the U.S., Guinness sales grew 1%.