Efforts from Baltimore County officials and local brewers couldn’t keep Guinness Baltimore Blonde local: Diageo, the parent company of Guinness, announced Wednesday that production of the beer will be taken over by New York-based brewer FX Matt.

If that name sounds familiar, it’s because FX Matt last month also acquired Flying Dog Brewery, which had been based in Frederick, Maryland.

A Diageo spokesman confirmed Blonde’s relocation in an emailed statement Wednesday. “After conducting a due diligence process, which also considered options to keep production of Baltimore Blonde in the state, the supplier that best met the business case and production timeline was FX Matt Brewing Company in New York,” they wrote.

Production at Diageo’s Baltimore County facility stopped this month, resulting in the lay off of nearly 100 workers. Diageo is maintaining the Guinness Open Gate Brewery, which also features a small “innovation brewery” on the ground floor of its visitor center.

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Despite moving to New York, Baltimore Blonde — which carries the Maryland flag on its label — will still maintain its name. Production is set to start in October in New York.

Multiple Maryland-based brewers have recently announced their departures from the state. DuClaw Brewing Company announced earlier this month it was being purchased by New Jersey’s River Horse Brewing Company, and plans to move its production there.

In a statement, Baltimore County spokeswoman Erica Palmisano said “Baltimore County is disappointed in Diageo’s decision to end manufacturing here, and we will do all we can to support local impacted workers and to continue promoting our region’s vibrant craft brewing industry.”

In May, Baltimore County Executive John Olszewski Jr. committed $500,000 to any brewer in his jurisdiction who could take over Blonde production. He wrote that the money would go toward the “significant infrastructure investments required for any local brewer to meet the brewing and bottling specifications associated with the production of Baltimore Blonde.”

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Hugh Sisson of Heavy Seas Beer had previously reached out to Diageo hoping to contract Baltimore Blonde production at his Halethorpe facility. In a letter to Diageo leadership, he expressed confidence “that our market will respond more favorably if Baltimore Blonde is brewed locally.”

In the same letter, Sisson called the beer’s potential departure “a blow to both our County and our regional craft beverage industry,” comparing it to “other brands that are symbolic of the region” but brewed outside of it.

christina.tkacik@thebaltimorebanner.com

Christina Tkacik is the food reporter for The Baltimore Banner. A former Baltimore Sun reporter, she has covered the city's dining scene as well as crime and politics. 

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