More than a year after collaborating with Goose Island to create Marisol, Rick Bayless is ready to tap two new beers tonight at Frontera Grill: a red wheat beer called Alma and a bourbon barrel-aged chocolate barleywine called Xocolatl.
The two beers are part of an ongoing Chef Collaboration series at the Goose Island Clybourn pub brewmaster Jared Rouben that has included Bayless, Stephanie Izard, and Graham Elliot (Full disclosure: I am currently working on a book about the series with Rouben). Last week, the Trib reported on the release of Alma, a red wheat beer with German hefeweizen yeast and aromatics of clove, banana, and peach. At 5.8% ABV., the beer was designed to pair with grilled meats and moles (best for dinner) and will go for $6.50 a pint.
But we're most amped about the release of Xocolatl (pronounced: choco-lat-el), a bourbon barrel-aged chocolate barleywine made with cacao beans from Bayless's restaurant Xoco, Mexican vanilla beans, and ancho chilies, then aged in Elijah Craig barrels for a year and a half. Naturally, this kind of aging makes it a pretty intense beer, checking in at 9% ABV. The beer won gold medal in the experimental category at this year's Festival of Bourbon Aged Beers (We tasted it. It's delicious). In fact, it was a trip to last year's festival with Rouben that inspired Bayless's business partner Manny Valdes to suggest a barrel-aged beer.
Given the length of aging with top notch ingredients, we're not surprised it comes with a heftier price tag ($10 a pint). We'd recommend saving this one for the end and pairing with their special dessert: a Mexican vanilla bean flan with choconuez ice cream (Oaxacan chocolate infused with pecans), caramelized baby bananas, praline pecans and brown butter pudding. Both beers will be on tap tonight and should expect to go quickly, as the restaurant only has a barrel of each.