Guinness names brewmaster for Baltimore County brewery

The planned Guinness brewery in Baltimore County moved forward Tuesday with the appointment of a brewmaster and the application for a bar license.

Diageo Beer Co. USA appointed Peter Wiens as the first brewmaster for what will be called the Guinness Open Gate Brewery & Barrel House at the former Seagram's bottling plant in Relay. Diageo plc is an international liquor company that owns the Guinness brand.

Wiens will oversee operations at the facility, which will become the home for Guinness Blonde American Lager as well as a test brewery.

A small-scale brewery and taproom is expected to open this fall to coincide with the 200th anniversary of Guinness Draught's being imported to America. The full facility is expected to open next spring.

Diageo has applied for a local bar license from Baltimore County's Board of Liquor License Commissioners, which is required for the taproom. And Baltimore County Council Chairman Tom Quirk introduced a bill Monday night setting zoning requirements for the Guinness project.

Wiens comes to Guinness from Stone Brewing Co., where he led the brewing operations at the brewery's new East Coast facility in Richmond, Va.. He also worked for his family's wine cellars and for Anheuser-Busch and holds a bachelor's degree in fermentation science from the University of California, Davis.

"Peter brings broad expertise, encompassing large and small operations, and his ties to the mid-Atlantic brewing community will help reinforce our commitment to ensuring the area prospers as a destination for beer lovers," said Thomas Day, president of Diageo Beer USA, in a statement.

After a bruising debate, the General Assembly passed a bill sought by Guinness allowing production breweries to sell more beer in their taprooms and to serve a certain amount of beer not brewed on-site. But the bill — which becomes law on July 1 — drew criticism because new breweries will be required to close earlier and breweries would be required to buy beer for their taprooms from their distributors after they hit a certain volume of sales.

Diageo officials said the ability to sell more beer and import beer were key to making the Relay project viable. The taproom will be able to sell imported beer from affiliated brands such as Guinness Draught, Smithwick's and Harp.

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