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Guinness Open Gate Brewery: A Story of Policy, Partnerships and Progress

Nov 3, 2023

Recently, the Maryland Chamber of Commerce visited the Guinness Open Gate Brewery in Baltimore County to host its kick-off for the new HYPE (Helping Young Professionals Excel) event series. With nearly 100 young professionals in the room, we learned how Guinness drove economic growth while investing in communities and supporting nonprofits. 

Over 260 Years of History in Business

The Guinness story started over 260 years ago in 1759 when Arthur Guinness established his legendary Dublin brewery. Generations of innovation followed, and by 1886 production had exploded, making Guinness the largest brewery on earth. 

Guinness Comes to Maryland: A Story of Advocacy and Partnership

Fast forwarding to 2017, Guinness announced plans to open its first US brewery in over 60 years, selecting a historic Maryland site owned by its parent company Diageo. While the site had existed as a distillery since 1934, it was no longer an active economic hub. 

Diageo wanted to invest in the site and bring life to the historic buildings on the property, but Maryland’s restrictive laws capped production at just 500 barrels annually, far below the 5,000 barrels Guinness needed for their business plans to be viable. Recognizing the potential, local and state leaders, along with brewers, wholesalers and other stakeholders collaborated with Guinness to negotiate a compromise. 

In April 2017, policies were amended to raise the cap to 3,000 barrels, making Guinness's brewery possible. This seemingly small shift brought major impact — over $50 million investment, hundreds of jobs and 400,000 visitors in the first year alone, completely transforming the local economy. And, as of 2023, more than 1.3 million guests have visited Guinness Open Gate Brewery, enjoying experimental brews, events, connection and a revived historic site. 

Partnerships Fuel Ongoing Success

Advocacy was key to Guinness opening in Maryland, but community collaboration and partnerships have been equally important to their success. Guinness collaborated to address transportation infrastructure needs around their brewery and has continuously demonstrated a commitment to collaborating with their neighbors and surrounding communities. And, in 2019, Guinness worked with Maryland brewers to pass the Brewery Modernization Act, further raising caps and supporting industry growth. 

 Like many businesses, Guinness also values community and partnerships. Some of their partnership work has included collaborating with local minority-owned CAnE Collective on branded mixers, aiding the Annapolis-based Oyster Recovery Partnership nonprofit with a $50,000 donation to aid in the planting of one million new oysters in the Chesapeake Bay, supporting women through the Pink Boots Society, a nonprofit aimed at empowering women in the fermented and alcoholic beverage industry to advance their careers, and by supporting Black Women Build Baltimore, a non-profit that trains black women in trade-related skills.  

The Power of Collaboration

Without effective advocacy, partnerships, and collaboration, it's unlikely this international business would have selected Maryland or been able to create such a thriving destination.  

The Guinness story shows how impactful advocacy and collaboration can be, and provides a great example of how, by working together, individuals, businesses and policymakers can create outcomes that drive opportunity, growth, and partnerships that make a positive difference. 

Interested in learning more about advocacy and how you can make your voice heard? Explore the Maryland Chamber of Commerce's advocacy work, upcoming events and how you can get involved in efforts to help create a Maryland where all businesses and their communities thrive. Let's work together to better Maryland's future.