Celebrity Chef Plans to Partner With Crown Imports to Create New Craft Beer

Chef Rick Bayless

As it waits on a potentially new ownership structure, Crown Imports has plans to partner with a celebrity chef to develop a beer that will likely aim to complement Mexican cuisine, according to Ad Age.

Rick Bayless, known for his PBS show Mexico – One Plate at a Time, will work with Crown, which distributes Corona and other Mexican beers, to create the beer, which is planned to hit shelves in 2014. The beer, which will appear in store promotions with Bayless’ salsas, grilling sauces and organic chips, is currently untitled and the style is unknown. As part of the deal, Crown will sponsor Bayless’ show, which will feature ads for Negra Modelo.

Crown plans to distribute the beer regionally, though strong demand could spread the footprint.

“We will have our own brewers, but he is going to be actively involved in the recipe and style,” Jim Sabia, Crown’s CMO, said to Ad Age about Bayless. “He’s going to be our master brewer.”

While his celebrity status may discourage craft purists, Bayless has some experience with beer. In 2010, he collaborated with Goose Island on Marisol, a Latin-style white ale that is sold at some of his restaurants. Following the beer’s release, Bayless said that while it goes well with guacamole and ceviche, Marisol is still a quality brew on its own.

“We take the beer as seriously as we take the food,” Bayless said on an episode of Hop Cast.

However some Chicagoans are upset that Bayless chose to work with Crown. South Loop Brewing, a self-proclaimed “uber-small craft brewery in one of Chicago’s finest neighborhoods,” expressed its displeasure on Twitter yesterday.

“Shame on you, @Rick_Bayless. I can think of no fewer than a dozen real craft brewers in Chicago that you should be doing this with instead,” the tweet said.