Guinness' annual Meatopia Festival is a meat and beer lover's dream: 4 reasons you should go

If you find yourself in Dublin, Ireland, chances are touring the Guinness Storehouse (where the beer was first made) is on top of your to-do list. But once a year, Guinness and meat lovers are treated to a weekend of a lifetime with the Meatopia Festival. Yup, you read that right -- the Meatopia Festival.

AOL Lifestyle got a firsthand, behind-the-scenes look at what goes down at the Meatopia Festival -- from the brews to the meat -- and it's safe to say it's all that it's cracked up to be and more!

This year's Meatopia Festival was inspired by the seven basic tastes in cooking: bitter, salty, sour, astringent, sweet, pungent and umami. The word "umami" means "savory" or "meaty" in Japanese, and thus means a sensation of savoriness. World-renowned chefs were flown in from all parts of the world -- from Hong Kong to New York -- and were assigned one of the seven basic tastes. The challenge? To make the perfect dish to pair with the different brews Guinness makes in special batches at their Storefront Brewery. 

If you missed out on this year's event, don't worry, we've got you covered with the top moments from the festival below. And maybe it'll give you a reason to make it to next year's celebrations!

1. Esther Choi's to-die-for kalbi dish paired with Guinness' Gooseberry Sour

(Photo courtesy of Guinness)

Choi is only 32, but her resume is stacked. The owner of Mokbar, located in New York City's Chelsea market, is truly a multi-hyphenated force to be reckoned with. Choi was challenged to create a dish that would satisfy the taste of "umami," and she delivered. One of our favorite dishes of the weekend was her delicious kalbi cooked over alder wood and served on SSAM (lettuce wrap, grilled rice cake, scallion salad and roasted garlic) with grilled whole head kimchi paired with Guinness' Gooseberry Sour. The Gooseberry Sour was one of the biggest surprises from the weekend -- the brew is unexpectedly sour. The more you drink, the more it grows on you.

2. Get-off-your-seat-and-start-dancing entertainment

(Photo courtesy of Guinness)

Not only is Guinness' Meatopia Festival home to some of the best meat and beers in the world, it also has a wicked performance lineup that may rival Coachella's. Our favorite from the weekend? The 'dirty gospel' music of New York City-based band Reverend Vice and the Love Choir. The festival began on Friday evening, as soon as everyone got off work, and the famed Guinness Storehouse was the perfect backdrop (complete with hanging string lights, a gorgeous sunset and beer flowin') for the perfect weekend. 

3. Jonathan Sawyer's hilarious antics and melt-in-your-mouth beef shank

(Photo courtesy of Guinness)

Spend less than five minutes with the Cleveland-based chef and you'll realize why he's one of the best in the culinary world. The owner and chef of Cleveland's Greenhouse Tavern whipped up a masterpiece -- beef shank Braciola with veal breast ricotta cavatelli, tendon salsa verde & suet scarpetta -- that was paired with Guinness' Foreign Extra Stout. While you'll have to travel to Cleveland to try Sawyer's food, you can get the beer at select locations in the United States. 

4. Good vibes all around

(Photo courtesy of Guinness)

Guinness' Meatopia Festival attracts a certain kind of folk -- the kind you'd want to be trapped on a deserted island with. The vibe was chill, yet lively, the people incredibly friendly and eager to talk and the food spectacular. If you're a fan of meat and beer, this may be one of the best weekends to make a trip to Dublin. While the festival begins in the afternoon and lasts all the way into the evening, you can make the most of your mornings by walking around the city and perhaps making a pit stop at the Guinness Storehouse to get a tour of the OG factory.

And if you can't make a trip to Dublin to enjoy Guinness any time soon, you're in luck because the brand has the perfect summer beer to satisfy any kind of beer fan -- the Guinness Blonde Lager. The Blonde Lager is a light and hoppy beer with a complex and flavorful taste that is perfect for the summer. Plus, it comes in a can, which is perfect for toting to the beach or park! You can check out select retailers here

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