If anyone gets bragging rights when it comes to beer, I do. So I'm going to take this opportunity to exercise those rights. I've pulled my own pint of Guinness in Dublin, at the actual St. James's Gate brewery. With the brew master, Fergal Murray. And then I continued onto a pub crawl that lasted well into the wee hours of the next morning.

It was one of those once-in-a-lifetime opportunities that I will annoyingly bring up again and again whenever the conversation turns to St. Patrick's Day and beer. Which is pretty funny, since the whole St. Paddy's Day/drink-till-you-see-leprechauns thing is purely an American invention.

But just as the Super Bowl is one of the most celebrated American holidays, so, too, is St. Patrick's Day.

Starting on Saturday with the Stamford St. Patrick's Day parade, continuing Sunday with the New Haven parade and then moving on to Bridgeport's parade next Thursday, every Irish pub will be packed to the gills with people toasting their Irish heritage (real or imagined) with pints of Guinness, Harp and Smithwicks. And once the pubs are at capacity, all the other bars will start to fill up as well.

"We'll get a lot of overflow from the parade on the 12th," said Marc Capasso, general manager of Southport Brewing Company's branch in Stamford. The Southport location, while not on a parade route, will also see its fair share of revelers. The most popular drinks for the holiday are the house-brewed stout and the Big Head Blonde, which, through the miracle of the leprechauns and food coloring, will be green. A few pints paired with some corned beef sliders, and everyone is certain to be in a celebratory mood.

Since St. Patrick's Day this year falls on a Thursday, the restaurants and bars closest to the train station are likely to be brimming with Irish pride after work.

Archie Moore's on Sanford Street in downtown Fairfield will offer a full St. Pat's menu, including the traditional corned beef-and-cabbage dinners, corned beef on rye, Guinness burgers, beef stew and a special dessert made with Baileys Irish Cream.

"The big sellers that day are Guinness, Bass, Sam and Sam Noble Pils," said bartender Mary Fleming. "People come from right off the train. It's a lot of fun."

So why all the Guinness? Obviously because it's Irish. But the alcohol content has something to do with it, too. Guinness, surprisingly enough, is comparable to a light beer. That's something Murray drilled into my head. Guinness may look heavy, but in fact, a draught pint is 4.2 percent alcohol and 125 calories -- a good thing when you have lots of people drinking lots of Guinness in a relatively short amount of time. (Compare those figures to a typical "light" beer, which averages about 4.2 percent alcohol and 100 calories. On the other end of the spectrum are India Pale Ales (IPAs) and Belgian ales, which can range from 5 to 10 percent alcohol with an average of 188 calories.)

In Fairfield, the Old Post Tavern at Post and Unquowa roads downtown plans to celebrate by offering half-price Guinness all day, along with live music and a menu that includes corned beef and bangers and mash. If Guinness isn't to your liking, you can also opt for their other beers on tap, which include Samuel Adams, Sierra Nevada and Stone IPA.

More Information

THE SCOOP Southport Brewing Company: 2600 Post Road, Southport (and other locations in Stamford, Milford, Hamden and Branford); 203-256-BEER. Archie Moore's: 48 Sanford St., Fairfield (as well as locations in Milford, New Haven, Wallingford and Derby); 203-256-9295 Old Post Tavern: 1418 Post Road, Fairfield; 203-292-8631 Fairfield Cheese Co.: 2090 Post Road, Fairfield; 203-292-8194

Needless to say, if a night of line-'em-up pints and continuous renditions of "Oh Danny Boy" aren't in the cards for a Thursday evening, you can always head over to Fairfield Cheese Co., where you can get a chunk of Cahill Porter, a firm cheddar cheese from Ireland that's laced with Porter beer. Not quite as celebratory, to be sure, but you'll still have the luck of the Irish on your side.

And, this St. Patrick's Day, if you find yourself lucky enough to be able to pour your own pint of Guinness, take into consideration these steps, direct from Brew Master Murray: Start with a clean, dry glass. Hold it at a 45-degree angle, and let the tap do its job. (Never let the tap touch the glass.) Let the Guinness settle, then top it off with the creamy dome. And the last step? Present it. The pint should look like a work of art, with delicate lacing showering down inside the glass and a rounded dome.

E-mail Patti Woods at eatdrinkshopcook@gmail.com.