Ah, Guinness. Thoughts of Guinness typically evoke images of beautifully-poured pints,
cozy, wood-paneled Irish pubs, maybe some traditional Irish music and great craic*. But what
might not come to mind when thinking Guinness is the United States. When, in actuality,
Guinness has been in the States for 201 years now. Guinness was brewed at a
Guinness-owned brewery in the US (New York City) from 1948 until 1954, and Guinness will
soon open the Open Gate Brewery & Barrel House in Baltimore, dedicated to brewing new
beers for Americans.
According to logs in the Guinness archives, Guinness was first shipped to the US in
October, 1817. Eight barrels of beer were unloaded off of a ship in South Carolina, destined for a man named Mr. John Heavy. We don’t know who Mr. Heavy was or what use he might have
had for the beer, but it’s possible that he owned a pub and might have bottled the beer himself
(as was customary at the time) for sale in that pub. Or, as so many US Guinness drinkers have
been throughout the centuries, perhaps he was an Irish immigrant who was feeling nostalgic for his homeland.
The story of the first Guinness stateside brewery dates to 1948, when it was built in the
Long Island City neighborhood of Queens, NY, to brew and bottle our biggest selling beer at
that time, Guinness Extra Stout. In fact, before nitrogenated Guinness Draught was introduced
in 1959, Extra Stout made up the bulk of Guinness sales in Ireland dating back to the
mid-1800s. However, the 1950s proved to be a difficult time for many American breweries, as it
was a time of consolidation and shifting consumer preferences towards lagers. Sadly, the
brewery shuttered in 1954, although you can still see a faded Guinness mural on the outside of
In early 2017, we announced our plans to build a brewery in Baltimore County, and on
August 3rd, we officially open the doors to invite everyone in for a pint. Nowadays, beer means
many things to many people, and the Open Gate Brewery & Barrel House will reflect that. While
the Irish stouts you love will continue to be brewed in Ireland, the US brewery will be the home of Guinness Blonde lager and other new brews. We’ll be focused on brewing and experimenting with barrel-aged beers and other one-off, brewery exclusive beers. Our goal is to take the expertise we’ve developed over the centuries in Dublin and apply that to the latest techniques of American brewing. With Guinness Brewery Ambassador Ryan Wagner and team, we’ll strive to educate novice beer drinkers to get them even more excited about the drink we all love. We’ll also aim to be a community hub, with an expansive lawn to host bands and events, a
world-class restaurant and a 40-tap pub.
We’re excited to show everyone what Guinness is up to as part of our pre-conference
excursion, and we hope you’ll join us if you haven’t already signed up. We’re proud of the beers we’re brewing in Baltimore, and would love for you to try them. We haven’t forgotten our Irish roots though — you’ll also get those classic Irish stouts served alongside the new beers.
*Pronounced ‘crack’, it’s Irish for “good times”. Also used as “What’s up?” as in “What’s the
–Heather McReynolds is the Guinness US Social Correspondent. Pick her brain with any and all
Guinness-related questions at @GuinnessUS on Twitter and Instagram.
Sponsored post: This post was provided by our conference sponsor, Guinness US.
Martyn Cornell says
‘craic … Pronounced ‘crack’, it’s Irish for “good times”’
Actually it’s the English word ‘crack’, used originally in the sense ‘talk, gossip’ in the North of England, and transferred to Ulster, from whence it spread to the rest of Ireland, picking up the sense ‘fun, enjoyment’, and gaining a fake Irish spelling along the way. See, eg, ‘Slanguage, a Dictionary of Irish Slang’, by Bernard Share, p61.