Want a fun way to celebrate St. Patrick’s without crossing the pond to Dublin? Look no further than the Guinness Brewery in Baltimore. Yes, you heard right; in 2015, the iconic Irish brewery opened a new location in Maryland, and it is the perfect spot to raise a pint in celebration.
You can sample some of the finest brews around and take an unforgettable behind-the-scenes tour to see how Guinness is made in the US. The tour is free, and who doesn’t love free attractions!
Immerse yourself in the brewing process and learn some of the secrets behind this classic Irish beer. Take the chance to experience Irish beer brewing in the USA.
Guinness Brewery Baltimore
The brewery is named the Open Gate Brewery because the company literally opened the gates and invited the public inside. The sprawling compound boasts a large outdoor beer garden, perfect for soaking up some sun while enjoying some beer.
Inside, you’ll find a restaurant, bar, and a gift shop filled with unique souvenirs.
There are two breweries on the property. One is a large-scale production facility, where they craft the beers distributed to local restaurants and stores.
The second is a small experimental brewery where innovation is the name of the game. This is where the small-batch, brewery-only beers are crafted.
Behind the Scenes Tour
The small brewery is the one that offers a free behind-the-scenes tour. What’s a small batch, you ask? We’re talking about a 10-barrel brewery, which makes about 310 gallons of beer per batch.
But don’t let the smaller size fool you. The smaller scale of these batches lets the talented brewers get creative and experiment with unique flavors and techniques. The brew might become a permanent part of the lineup if it is popular.
The tours are in demand, so make reservations in advance and check back often for availability. During the tour, you receive a handy headset that makes it easy to follow along and hear all the information the experienced tour guides provide.
The tour kicks off outside with an overview of the rich history behind Guinness and the brewery in Baltimore. The iconic Guinness brewery was opened in Dublin in 1759. Over the years, they have earned a loyal following across the globe, including among Irish Americans.
Guinness realized that the US has become one of the most exciting and dynamic places in the beer industry and set out to find the ideal location for its first US brewery. Baltimore stood out because of its central location on the east coast and its ready access to water, an essential part of the brewing process.
The site chosen is a historic property that has been a brewery since the end of prohibition. It was already owned by the parent company of Guinness, making it an easy transition.
Head inside for the heart of the tour: the brewing process. Here visitors can see the state-of-the-art technology accompanying the ancient craft of beer making.
- First, the malted barley is ground to a coarse powder. This is mixed with hot water in a large mash tun tank to make a sugary and sticky liquid called the wort.
- The wort is heated and stirred in the mash tun to break down the sugars into simpler sugars that yeast can ferment. This takes about an hour.
- Once the mash is done, the liquid wort is drained from the grain and transferred to a brew kettle.
- The brew kettle boils the wort, and hops are added. The hops add bitterness, flavor, and aroma to the beer.
- Then the wort is cooled and moved to a fermenter, where yeast is added. The yeast consumes the sugars in the wort to make alcohol and carbon dioxide. The timing for this process varies depending on the beer being made, but it takes at least a few days.
- After fermentation, the beer moves to a conditioning tank, resting and maturing for a few weeks.
Another fun highlight is the barrel room. Some of the beer is aged in barrels previously used in liquor production, like bourbon or rye.
Using whiskey barrels in the aging process of other spirits has become popular recently. The residual flavors and aroma in the barrels can infuse the beer, which results in unique and unpredictable flavors.
You can continue the fun at the end of the tour and sign up for an optional tasting. This is a chance to sample some experimental beers crafted in the facility you just toured, along with classic Guinness Stout brewed in Ireland.
Also available is the brewery’s flagship beer, Baltimore Blonde. This American lager has a mild, refreshing flavor. It is made with Guinness yeast from Ireland and hops from America, making it a true blend of flavors.
There are two restaurants onsite, the outdoor beer garden and the indoor taproom. The menus change frequently but include a compelling mix of Irish classics, like Guinness beef stew and Irish brown bread, and Maryland favorites, like crab cakes and Old Bay wings.
The taproom and beer garden are also home to various special events and activities, from live music to trivia nights to special event dinners for Valentine’s Day and other holidays. And if you’re a fan of St. Patrick’s Day, you can celebrate for the entire month of March since the brewery pulls out all the stops for the holiday.
So to experience the magic of Irish beer American style, check out the Guinness Brewery in Baltimore. It is a destination that is worth a road trip!
Anne Jolly is the creator of the food blog Upstate Ramblings. She loves to cook with gadgets like an air fryer, sous vide or pressure cooker. In her free time she enjoys hiking, reading, knitting and spending time with her three kids.