Natty Boh said goodbye to Maryland years ago. Now production of Guinness’ Baltimore Blonde is also leaving the state.

Diageo North America, Inc., the parent company for Guinness, filed notice that it will lay off 108 workers and shut down its plant in Relay in a work adjustment and retraining log submitted with the state. However, a spokeswoman for Guinness said around 97 roles would be impacted.

In a statement, Diageo said that the restaurant and taproom at Guinness Open Gate Brewery at 5001 Washington Blvd. will still remain open. The company will continue limited brewing onsite for “select experimental beers” in a 10-barrel brewery in the visitor center.

The news comes as Guinness prepares to open a Guinness Open Gate Brewery in Chicago, its second modern outpost in the United States. (Its Maryland plant was the first in the U.S. in more than 60 years.)

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“After careful consideration and analysis of our supply footprint, we have made the difficult decision to permanently close our manufacturing facility in Relay, Maryland,” Diageo said in its statement. “In order to ensure long term sustainable growth for Diageo, we are optimizing our existing operations across North America to meet evolving consumer preferences.”

Production of Baltimore Blonde will shift to another location in June that is yet to be determined.

Luis Rábago, a corporate communications director for Diageo, said in addition to Guinness, the company’s Relay plant produces Smirnoff and other beverages.

The closure of the Maryland plant was first reported by The Baltimore Business Journal.

In 2017, Diageo persuaded state lawmakers to revamp the laws governing beer production in the state in order to both brew and serve the quantities of Guinness the company sought to offer at the Baltimore County facility. The legislation also allowed breweries to sell beer produced elsewhere ― a necessity for Guinness Open Gate to serve the company’s flagship draught that’s brewed in Ireland.

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The legislation was subject to much debate and compromise in Annapolis, as it was initially drafted to benefit only the Guinness facility. It was later revised to allow all production breweries, including homegrown companies, to sell more beer on site. At the time, Diageo expected the Guinness facility would cost $50 million and draw 250,000 visitors in its first year.

The Relay location, which opened in 2018, cost Diageo $90 million, The Baltimore Sun reported. It has welcomed more than 1.3 million visitors since then.

Baltimore Banner reporter Pamela Wood contributed to this article.

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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