I won’t drink beer, but I’ll drink Guinness.

This summer, I traveled to the UK and Ireland with my older sister. As I’m sure you’re aware, the pub culture there is a huge one. So, naturally we spent our days hopping from The Red Lion in London to The Cavern Pub in Liverpool, filling up on beers and meat pies.

Only thing was, I hated beer. I know — pretty awkward when beer-drinking is pretty much the point of pubs. So here we are, en route to Dublin, and the first stop is the Guinness factory. Now, I was excited to learn about the iconic brand, but I wasn’t expecting anything taste-wise, considering I’d spent two weeks  drinking apple cider everywhere we went. (I admit: it’s the basic bitch of alcohol, but I stand by the fact that cider slaps). 

I wandered through the factory learning how water, barley, hops, and yeast are mixed together to create the iconic drink. After coming to appreciate the craft and energy of brewing Guinness, it was time for the the “Guinness Storehouse Tasting Experience.” In this multi-sensory tasting journey, you walk through a room in which vaporized aromas such as malted barley, roasted barley, hops, and beer esters swirl through the air — bringing the stout’s distinctive flavor to life. Before the tasting, we were brought into the “Velvet Chamber.” This was the paramount moment in which I was taught how to properly enjoy Guinness.

For your benefit, I’ll reiterate the teachings here so that we may all get the most out of our beer drinking.

Step 1: Breathe in through the mouth as you start to drink the guinness

Step 2: Take a big gulp and swallow, but don’t breathe.

Step 3: Breathe out through the nose — to experience the full range of flavor

I was slightly unsettled too (especially about the not-breathing? part), but following these steps, I took my very first swig of Guinness.

And oh my god.

My life was forever changed.

This may seem dramatic (I’ll admit I’m a scorpio) but this was for real.

The coffee-based, malty aroma, the perfect balance of bitter and sweet with roasted characters, the smooth and creamy palate — it was the love-at-first flight experience I’d been searching for my entire trip. I took another gulp, and another, and another, until in four swallows I’d finished the pint. Meanwhile, my sister had just started. And to think, I’d gone my entire life without this drink!

Throughout the rest of my time in Dublin, the velvety foam and ruby red draught lured me from one pub to another, fueling me with a renewed sense of purpose (while making me a cheery gal). So take me back to Ireland and let’s kick back with a pint, but beware — I will likely have finished at least three while you’re still on your first.