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Move over wine, beer is looking for a place at the table! Paon Restaurant in Carlsbad hosted a pairing dinner this past week with beers chosen by the Stone Brewing Company. I attended not as a beer connoisseur, but as a food lover who wanted to see how beer would fare with French inspired California cuisine.

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The $80 dinner consisted of seven courses, each paired with two beers. To a full house, Stone's Chad Heath explained why the beers were chosen and if they weren’t Stone Brewery’s own, he told us a little about the brewery that created the selection.

For the first course, we were treated to Indian Spiced Maine Diver Scallops with a fennel and green apple slaw, and a Medjool date chutney. The beer pairings were a Stone IPA and Duvel.

The Veal Sweet Breads of the second course came with smoked pancetta, braised endive and a black truffle sauce. The beers were Stone Levitation and Avery White Rascal. The strong effervescence of the White Rascal was an excellent complement to understated flavor of the sweet breads.

The Alesmith Nut Brown served in the fourth course became a comfort food drink with the caramelized, and unexpectedly pureed, onion soup. The other hand held a Stone Pale Ale.

For a refreshing fourth course, we ate Honey Soy Cured Hamachi with daikon sprouts, crème fraiche, avocado, and sesame oil. The beers paired with this course were Stone Ruination IPA and Avery IPA.

The variety of beers and the brewing methods provided a wide range of flavors, strength of ingredients, and levels of carbonation. By this point, I discovered that the beers that appealed most to me were the darkest and the bubbliest pale ones - those most similar to champagne. Case in point of the former was the Stone Oaked Arrogant Bastard, which was served with the Housemade Game Bird Gnocchi. The game bird in question was duck; however, the dish was more creamy than rich, so the oaked ale worked well as the only pairing with this course.

Playing with the multiple flavors of the final dinner course, Stone Double Bastard and Lost Abbey Devotion were paired with a Black Pepper Roasted New Zealand Cervina Venison, Swiss chard, celery root puree and port cherry sauce.

For dessert, Paon treated us to a Stout Ginger Cake with Espresso Ice Cream and Stone Brewing Company brought out the big guns: Alesmith Speedway Stout and Stone Smoked Porter. The coffee-flavored stout is an obvious choice as a “dessert beer”, but Chad made it clear that the porter was available for those who couldn’t handle the intensity of the Speedway.

Paon’s chef put together a nice mix of ingredients to create out of the ordinary dishes and I left with a new appreciation for beer, especially with regards to variety and ability to pair with more than just football fare. With such a large crowd for their first beer pairing dinner, I suspect that Paon and Stone Brewing Company will have more, either together or separately.

Paon Restaurant & Wine Bar 2975 Roosevelt Street, Carlsbad, CA 92008 760.729.7377 http://www.paoncarlsbad.com

STONE Brewing Company 1999 Citracado Parkway, Escondido, CA 92029 760.471.4999 http://www.stonebrewing.com

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