Global Branding: Guinness Plans to Open First U.S. Brewery Since 1954

With an initial investment of $80 million, The Guinness Open Gate Brewery & Barrel House will be opening its doors in Baltimore, Maryland this year.

There are not many beers that are quite as iconic as a Guinness. The Irish stout, which any beer aficionado knows requires a very particular pour in order for the “storm” or surge to settle within the glass, is known for its creamy texture, crisp taste, and long history. However, in the U.S., those who wish to have a nice cold glass of the beer must settle for imports. That is, until August 3. Diageo Beer Company, owners of Guinness have announced that the company will be opening a Guinness brewery on U.S. soil, the first brewery for the beer in the United States since 1954.

Founded in 1759 by Arthur Guinness in Dublin, Ireland, Guinness has become the world’s most popular stout, sold in 150 countries, with 9 million glasses of Guinness being poured and consumed by its fans every day. Currently brewed in 49 different countries, Guinness will find its next home in Baltimore, Maryland, with the potential of employing 200 people. The Guinness Open Gate Brewery and Barrel House will be open for public tours, will have taproom tastings and a 270-seat restaurant.

But why the U.S.? As described by the company, “The USA is probably the most dynamic and exciting beer market in the world right now, and, put simply, we’d like to be closer to the action. Having a brewery in the USA will help us understand and respond to trends more quickly, as well as brew smaller batches and get them to market faster.”

Predicted to bring over 300,000 to the Baltimore community, Guinness hopes for the brewery to  “be a center of exploration and innovation in barrel-aging,” in homage to the Guinness tradition.

With that being said, for a beer with such an immense global brand presence, establishing a brewery location in the United States not only re-establishes the brand overseas, but provides an entirely new experience for customers. Tom Day, Diageo Beer Company USA Chairman and Diageo Global Sales Officer, spoke on the matter saying, “In my opinion, the word ‘milestone’ doesn’t do justice to this moment in Guinness history. Since we announced our brewery just outside Baltimore, I’ve spent a lot of time here and have come to really love the area and the people of Maryland. I can’t wait to see this place open and become a part of this vibrant community and special beer culture. I really think we have something great to offer folks, both in terms of beer and a fantastic place to visit and experience.”

Guinness is more than just a beer; it is a symbol of tradition and Irish heritage. With the incredibly the rich Irish pub history that accompanies it, Guinness acts not only as an icon, but for many, as a memory. With the opening of its doors to the U.S., Guinness not only expands its global brand presence, but also its community and tradition onto American soil.

From a marketing management perspective, here are some questions to think about:

  • How does brick and mortar play into a brand and its development?
  • What might be some important things Guinness must consider in order to effectively advertise to the U.S. craft beer market?
  • What might be some barriers Guinness might face in establishing this brewery, and how might it affect their brand name, both positively and negatively?