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Vitamin G: It's not just for St Patrick's Day anymore

A foggy day. An Irish pub. Does it make you thirsty for a Guinness? If it does, you're in good company. Guinness stout is one of the top three imported draught beers in the Bay Area with over 1,000 draught accounts in the greater Bay Area.

Several factors influence the popularity of Guinness locally, a large population of Europeans, great Irish pubs and perhaps even our chilly weather. According to local bartenders, Guinness is more popular on cool days than on hot ones. And there is no shortage of cool days in San Francisco. Contrary to popular conception, Guinness is served at "Irish room temperature" or about 39-41 degrees.

Or perhaps fitness conscious San Franciscans like Guinness for it's reputed health benefits -- Guinness is high in iron, contains B vitamins and is low in calories. It is less caloric than most beers and at 125 calories per pint, has even fewer calories than low-fat milk or orange juice. According to a study by the University of Wisconsin, a pint a day may work as well as an aspirin to prevent heart clots that raise the risk of heart attacks; drinking lager did not yield the same benefits. Researchers believe antioxidant compounds in Guinness similar to those found in certain fruits and vegetables may slow down the deposit of cholesterol in arteries.

For many people, Guinness is a meal in itself. But you can also enjoy Guinness with your meal; Guinness is great with seafood, especially oysters, fish and chips and smoked salmon. Look for Guinness to turn up on the menu at places like Johnny Foleys and O'Reilly's in soups, stews and from time to time, even in ice cream!

Some favorite places around town to drink Guinness include (ranging from irish pubs to non-traditional pubs):